Baby Food in California Will Be Tested For Toxic Metals Under New Law | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Officials may finally be cracking down on harmful materials in food eaten by millions of American babies.

On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that requires baby food manufacturers to test for certain toxic heavy metals in their products. The bill will go into effect on the first day of 2024.

These metals include lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. 

“This is a big win for parents,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, said in a release. “It will give them vital safety information about the foods they serve their babies.” 

He also said that because the manufacturers will be required to post their results online, even people from outside California can see the results.

Under the new law products must be tested before packaging and distribution, must be tested once per month, and the manufacturers must provide the results of these tests to the State Department of Public Health. 

Baby food sold in the state after the first day of 2025 must disclose the shelf life as well as the name and the amount of each toxic element that was found, if applicable. If a toxic element was found, there must be a QR code on the label that links to Food and Drug Administration information about the element found.

Toxic metals can find their way into baby food through a number of ways: they can be introduced from being absorbed through the soil in which plants that make the food grow, they can be introduced during processing, and they can be introduced by groundwater that plants grow in as well. 

According to guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toxic metals in baby food are likely “a relatively small part of a child’s overall toxic metal exposure risk.” However, they also say that any measures to avoid these chemicals should be taken. 

In 2021, the  Committee on Oversight and Reform subcommittee from the House of Representatives released a report detailing their findings when they asked four major baby food manufacturers: Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber. According to EuroMonitor, baby food in the United States was worth an estimated $8 billion in 2020.. 

They found that arsenic, lead, and cadmium were present in the baby food from all four, and mercury was found in foods from Nurture (the only company that tested for it.) 

“The Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have declared [these chemicals] dangerous to human health, particularly to babies and children, who are most vulnerable to their neurotoxic effects. Even low levels of exposure can cause serious and often irreversible damage to brain development,” the report says. 

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have found inconsistent rules across the country on how toxic elements in baby food should be governed. 

How can I reduce the effects of toxic metals on my baby?

According to the AAP, you can reduce your child’s exposure to these chemicals by inserting variety into their diet, including multiple types of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Instead of just serving rice, which can absorb arsenic from groundwater, try also serving barley, couscous, quinoa and oats. If you do serve rice, be sure to rinse it well.

They recommend that you should pay attention to what fish you use; while fish can have numerous health benefits, some fish like shark, swordfish, and albacore may have heightened levels of mercury. Try lighter fish like pollock, salmon, cod and white tuna instead. 

Breastfeeding and making your own baby food are possible alternatives to store-bought baby food, however, the latter still necessitates that you pay attention to what’s going into the homemade food, and variety is also important. 

Finally, they recommend making sure your water isn’t contaminated with lead or arsenic, not smoking or vaping, and avoiding fruit juices—aside from how their health benefits aren’t as robust as whole or pureed fruits, they may also be contaminated with these chemicals.  


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