FDA finally puts limit on lead levels in baby food after mountains of research linked metal to learning difficulties
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now recommend limits to the amount of lead allowed in baby food.
Per new guidance released Tuesday, lead prevalence should be limited to 10 parts per billion (ppb) in fruits, some vegetables and yogurt, and 20ppb in root vegetables – which include carrots, beets and potatoes – and dry cereal.
The move comes after decades of research showing the potentially devastating impact of lead exposure on a child’s brain development. Dr Robert Califf, the commissioner of the FDA, said it could reduce childhood lead exposure by up to 27 percent.
Last year, a report found that nearly every baby food in America contains toxic chemicals, including arsenic and lead.
The crackdown comes as major US chocolate manufacturers face nearly a dozen lawsuits after it was revealed their dark chocolate bars contained lead.
The FDA has recommended limits to the amounts of lead in US baby food after recent studies found the toxic chemical is extremely prevalent in them (file photo)
These recommendations are currently considered draft guidance and will go into effect in the coming months.
The FDA notes that guidance is a recommendation and not legally enforceable. This means companies will not need to abide by these rules if they do not want to.
Lead often finds its way into food when they are absorbed into the environment through soil and industrial dust.
Parents have sought a crackdown on toxic metals in baby food since a bombshell report found these dangerous chemicals were prevalent in them last year.
Researchers at Healthy Babies tested 168 different baby foods for toxic metals. Toxic metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury were found in 159 of them – or 95 percent.
For a majority of these products, 88 percent, there are no enforceable guidelines for these toxic metals.
The researchers even noted that manufacturers often exceed FDA guidelines, which are unenforceable recommendations.
Even homemade baby purees and mixes contain these metals because the vegetables have often absorbed the metals while growing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that young children exposed to lead can suffer hampered development to their brain and nervous system.
Around 2.5 percent of children under the age of five have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead, experts believe.
As a result, they may have slowed growth, learning, behavior, hearing and speech issues.
A study published last year by researchers at Florida State University found that lead poisoning has robbed Americans of 2.6 IQ points each on average, usually from gasoline.