April 26, 2018

20% of baby food may contain lead, says environmental agency

18 June 2017, 12:30 | Darrell Baldwin

There is a 20% chance there is lead in food and juice geared toward children

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Researchers came to the conclusion that eating baby foods might make people six percent more likely to consume lead. Chronic, low-level exposure to lead during childhood can harm mental and physical development.

Fruit juices were most often found to contain lead (89 per cent of grape juice samples and 55 per cent in apple juice samples), sweet potatoes (86 per cent of samples) and teething biscuits (47 per cent).

Help minimize a child's lead exposure by having them eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

"I certainly would not recommend avoiding entire food groups because of a concern about lead exposure", Bole said. Children face the highest risks from blood lead levels, including behavioral problems and lower IQs as they grow.

The group looked at data from more than 12,200 food samples that were analyzed from 2003 to 2013 as part of the Food and Drug Administration's Total Diet Study, which tracks nutrients, pesticides and metals.

There's no safe level of lead, according to the EDF, and yet about 500,000 children have elevated blood lead levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eight types of baby food had lead in more than 40 percent of samples.

Researchers had data from 2,164 baby food samples, which included 57 different types.

The primary focus of the organisation was on baby foods due to the detrimental effect lead could have on child development.

This type of plot gives a ballpark idea of the percentage of the baby food being sold in the USA for certain levels of lead.

The FDA has indicated that it is re-evaluating its standards for lead in foods.

Contamination also could happen during processing from lead leaching from older brass, bronze, plastic or coated food handling equipment that contains lead; or from deteriorated lead paint in the building. This percentage decreased in accordance with the lead concentration: 9 percent of the samples tested above 10 ppb lead; 2 percent tested above 20 ppb lead; and less than 1 percent tested above 30 ppb lead.

The good news is that this is possible.

While the amount of lead found in most samples was tiny, Sarah Vogel, vice president for health at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the results were "concerning" especially for children younger than 6.

Among these foods, there were some which contained high quantities of the substance and might pose bigger problems.

In all, the EDF review surmised some 1 million children consume amounts of lead that are above the FDA's "safe" limit.

The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.

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