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Granted, Halloween is coming up, but this may not be quite the fright you're looking for: A recent study by the Clean Label Project found that many of the most popular baby foods out there tested positive for arsenic—including 80% of all infant formulas.
The study looked at 500 infant formulas and 60 brands of baby food products. Each product was scanned for over 130 toxins, including heavy metals, BPA, and pesticides.
For a little added legitimacy, the Clean Label Project had the products reviewed by a third-party chemistry lab to check their work and look at other possible problems such as environmental contaminants.
Details on each brand reviewed can be seen on the Clean Label Project website's brand report cards.
Now granted, the Clean Label Project didn't publish their work in a peer-reviewed journal, so it's worth taking with a grain of salt. However, their findings are pretty concerning: 65% of the brands tested positive for arsenic, 36% for lead, 58% for cadmium, and 10% for acrylamide. Some tested as high as 600 parts of arsenic per billion.
The brands in question include Gerber, Enfamil, Plum Organics, and Sprout.
Naturally, Gerber has responded with doubt regarding the study. In an email to USA Today, Gerber said the study is generating "unnecessary alarm," adding that they "want to reassure parents that the health and safety of babies is our number one priority…all Gerber foods meet or exceed US government standards for quality and safety."
So what's a good parent to believe, let alone do? Speaking to Mercury News, Dr. Keith Fabisiak, Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente's Campbell Medical Center, offered one solution: make your own baby food.
"When parents ask me the question, 'What is the best brand of baby food to feed my baby?' my answer is always home-made," Fabisiak said. "Even the baby foods that are labeled as 'organic' or 'all natural' can still contain significant amounts of contaminants like lead and arsenic, so the best baby food is the one that you make yourself."
Obviously that's not going to work for all parents, so luckily there are other things you can do, like increasing your child's intake of fruits and vegetables and cutting back on juice (or cutting it out altogether).
Some contaminants are just part of our environment and can't be entirely removed. But it also behooves a parent to learn as much as they can about the food their baby is consuming. Hopefully government regulations around contaminants in food will continue to improve with new studies and data as well.