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The FDA Is Cracking Down on the Safety Regulations of This Food

After a report exposed metals in 7 baby food brands, the agency plans to issue stricter protocols.
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese
baby food

In an effort to reduce toxic elements lurking in baby food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a new plan called Closer to Zero.

Thanks to pressure from Congress and outraged parents, the agency is starting to aggressively address high levels of heavy metals found in baby foods, despite internal testing suggesting that children aren't at immediate risk of exposure from the levels typically found in these products. However, the need to remove potentially harmful toxins from baby food remains eminent.

"We have prioritized babies and young children because their smaller body sizes and metabolism make them more vulnerable to the harmful effects of these contaminants," the FDA said in a statement. (Related: Costco Foods You Should Always Avoid, According to Nutritionists)

In February, a report from the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy disclosed that baby food products from seven different companies contained significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Popular brands such as Gerber, Campbell's Plum Organics, Walmart's Parent's Choice, and Sprout Organic Foods were among the bunch found to contain 91 times the arsenic level, 177 times the lead level, 69 times the cadmium level, and 5 times the mercury level. 

"Exposure to toxic heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children," the report stated. "Toxic heavy metals endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function."

The new plan details key measures that the FDA will take over the course of the next few years to reduce toxic elements in baby foods. The phases include evaluating the science, establishing maximum levels of metals, ensuring that manufacturers comply with these new levels, and then finalizing these actions. During the final phase, the FDA will reevaluate if levels need to be further reduced.

Maximum acceptable levels of lead in both baby and toddler foods are expected to be drafted by April 2022. Levels for arsenic won't be drafted until April 2024. Cadmium and mercury draft dates have yet to be announced by the FDA.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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