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House report on baby food shows FDA, companies must take action now

Opinion Consumer Reports today (Sept. 29) urged baby food manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration to take quick and decisive action to address the “disturbing” findings in a new report issued by the U.S. House Oversight Committee. Oversight’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a new staff report that shows “high levels of toxic heavy…

Opinion

Consumer Reports today (Sept. 29) urged baby food manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration to take quick and decisive action to address the “disturbing” findings in a new report issued by the U.S. House Oversight Committee.

Oversight’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a new staff report that shows “high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby food and the industry’s failure to end harmful practices that pose serious health risks to babies and toddlers.” The report also has recommendations for FDA and industry to eliminate toxic content in baby foods. The subcommittee issued an initial report in February 2021.

Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy for Consumer Reports, said, “What’s especially disturbing about the report’s findings is the industry’s dismissive approach toward ensuring the safety of baby food.

“Between incomplete recalls, weakening their own standards, and the refusal to test finished products, these baby food manufacturers do not appear to be putting safety first. This report clearly demonstrates the need for the FDA to act quickly in publishing maximum limits for toxic heavy metals in baby food and requiring the industry to perform finished-product testing. The findings demonstrate that today’s rules and industry promises are woefully inadequate when it comes to safety.”

In 2018, Consumer Reports’ food safety team analyzed 50 nationally distributed packaged foods made for babies and toddlers, checking for cadmium, lead, mercury, and inorganic arsenic, the type most harmful to health.  CR’s tests found that about two-thirds (68 percent) had worrisome levels of at least one heavy metal.

Fifteen of the foods would pose potential health risks to a child regularly eating just one serving or less per day. Snacks and products containing rice and/or sweet potatoes were particularly likely to have high levels of heavy metals.

For years, CR has advocated for regulations, legislation, and industry reforms to reduce toxins in baby food. CR has endorsed the Baby Food Safety Act introduced in Congress, which would set strict limits on heavy metals in baby foods.

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