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Many Baby Foods Contain Lead, Report Says

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A new report by the Environmental Defense Fund indicates that low levels of lead contaminate nearly all kinds of baby food. The most likely to contain lead are fruit juices, cookies, and root vegetables.

Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director for the non-profit, says, “No child gets high levels of lead from food alone. But low levels of lead cause a lot of harm to kids across the country.”

The 50-year-old advocacy group analyzed data from the US Food and Drug Administration’s Total Diet Study, which collects food samples from across the county yearly, testing them for nutrients and contaminants, USA Today reports.

The FDA does not name the brands they test, or the stores where the products are bought. The database included 57 kinds of baby food and formula, tested from 2003 to 2013. The Environmental Defense Fund found that over this time frame, at least one test had lead levels that could be measured in all but five baby foods.

According to the findings, 20% of 2,164 baby food samples tested positive for lead, compared to 14% of the 10,064 regular food samples. The highest lead levels were recorded in a vegetable and beef dinner.

None of the lead levels exceeded current government safety standards, although the researchers contend that government standards don’t exactly adhere to scientific research.

In 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendation on lead content for kids, saying that there is no safe level.

The FDA released a statement saying it is “in the process of reevaluating the analytical methods it uses for determining when it should take action with respect to measured levels of lead in particular foods, including those consumed by infants and toddlers.” Further,

The FDA is continuing to work with industry to further limit the amount of lead in foods to the greatest extent feasible, especially in foods frequently consumed by children.

The Environmental Defense Fund is pushing for manufacturers to voluntarily put a limit of 1 ppb of lead in baby food and children’s food, and is recommending that companies test their products for frequently to ensure that lead levels remain low.

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