FDA proposes guidelines for lead in baby food


(NewsNation) — The Food and Drug Administration has issued draft guidelines on lead in baby food, which would limit the amount of lead permitted in food designed for children under the age of 2.

The proposed guidelines are not enforceable, but if adopted, the FDA would be able to enforce the limits. Most foods would have a limit of 10 parts per billion, while dry cereals and root vegetable foods would have a limit of 20 parts per billion. Grain-based snacks were not included in the guidelines.

Lead gets into baby food because the heavy metal is so prevalent in our environment, including soil and water, that it is absorbed by animals and plants. Human activity accounts for a lot of the lead in our environment, but there are also natural sources that contribute.

Lead levels in baby food can also be increased if manufacturers add vitamins or enzymes to the product.

Lead can be dangerous for anyone, but children are especially at risk because lead exposure can harm a child’s development, including damaging the brain and nervous system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe amount of lead exposure for young children.

A congressional report done in 2021 found many baby foods, including organic brands, were contaminated with lead and other heavy metals, including cadmium and arsenic. The levels found were higher than those allowed for other products, like candy and bottled water.

Attorneys general in several states have urged the FDA to post results of lead testing in baby food, as well as test results for other heavy metals.

The FDA said the new guidelines would reduce lead exposure in children by 24 to 27 percent.

The American Association of Pediatrics offers advice for parents on how to limit the amount of lead their children consume, including serving a variety of foods and rotating those most likely to contain lead with foods that typically have lower lead levels.

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