FDA finally caps lead levels in baby food after extensive research links lead to learning disabilities
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now recommend limits on the amount of lead allowed in baby food.
Under new guidance released Tuesday, lead prevalence should be limited to 10 parts per billion (ppb) in fruits, some vegetables and yogurt, and 20 ppb in root vegetables, which include carrots, beets and potatoes, and dry cereals.
The move comes after decades of research showing the potentially devastating impact of lead exposure on a child’s brain development. FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said it could reduce childhood lead exposure by up to 27 percent.
Last year, a report found that almost all baby food in the United States contains toxic chemicals, including arsenic and lead.
The crackdown comes as major US chocolate makers face nearly a dozen lawsuits after their dark chocolate bars were revealed to contain lead.
The FDA has recommended limits on the amounts of lead in US baby foods after recent studies found that 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These recommendations are currently considered draft guidance and will go into effect in the coming months.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 the guidance is a recommendation and is not legally enforceable. This means that companies will not have to comply with these rules if they do not want to.
Lead often gets into food when absorbed into the environment through soil and industrial dust.
Parents have sought to crack down on toxic metals in baby food ever since an explosive report found these dangerous chemicals were prevalent in them last year.
Healthy Babies researchers 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 the majority of these products, 88 percent, there are no applicable guidelines for these toxic metals.
The researchers even noted that manufacturers often exceed FDA guidelines, which are recommendations that cannot be enforced.
Even homemade baby purees and mixes contain these metals because vegetables have often absorbed the metals while growing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that young children exposed to lead may suffer impaired brain and nervous system development.
About 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 problems with slower growth, learning, behavior, hearing, and speech.
A study published last year by Florida State University researchers found that lead poisoning has robbed Americans of 2.6 IQ points on average, usually from gasoline.