Why should I worry about heavy metals in baby food?


How heavy metals affect babies

High heavy metal exposure in babies and children can impact their health and development, building up over time and potentially causing health conditions in later life. Behavioral issues such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD), neurological damage, autism, anemia, and gastrointestinal dysfunction are just a few examples of how high heavy metal exposure may affect the development of your baby (1-3, 5).


How do heavy metals end up in our food?

Heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium occur naturally in the environment, however certain foods absorb more than others during the growing process, either through the soil or water (4). Additionally, the use of pesticides and fertilizes in commercial farming methods increases the heavy metal content in the soil, which is then reflected in the crops. Recent testing commissioned by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) on 168 baby foods, found toxic heavy metals (mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium) in 95% of products tested, and 25% of products tested contained all four contaminants (5). The findings of this research reflect similar findings to a previous study by the US Food & Drug Administration, whereby at least one of the same four metals was found in 33 of the 39 tested baby foods (6).


The importance of heavy metal testing in baby food

Every single Little Étoile Organic food pouch is independently tested for heavy metals including Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, and Cadmium, ensuring all baby foods are found to be below the detectable limit, and compliant with Australian food safety guidelines. What you feed your baby is fundamental to their development and ongoing health, and avoiding heavy metals is an important factor in maintaining this.

Heavy MetalPercentage of baby food products heavy metals are foundPotential Affect in Baby and Later Life
Arsenic
73%
Linked to increase in skin cancers, skin lesions, heart disease and neurotoxicity
Lead
94%
Negatively affect growth, behaviour and ability to learn including lowering IQ
Mercury
32%
Toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes
Cadmium
32%
Suppress the immune system and increased risk of learning disability
HIGHEST HEAVY METALS FOODS AND SAFER ALTERNATIVES (5)
Higher risk foodsSafer alternative
Teething foodsTeething biscuits and rice rusksOther soothing foods for teething – frozen banana or chilled cucumber
SnacksPuff snacks (rice)Rice-free snacks Cereal Infant rice cereal
Infant oatmeal cerealDrinksFruit juice Tap water
Fruits and VeggiesCarrots and sweet potatoesVariety that include carrots, sweet potatoes and other choices
References
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14757716
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427717/
  3. https://www.who.int/ceh/capacity/heavy_metals.pdf
  4. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/metals-contaminants-food
  5. https://www.healthybabyfood.org/sites/healthybabyfoods.org/files/2019-10/BabyFoodReport_EXEC-SUMM-ENGLISH_R5b.pdf
  6. https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-documents-regulatory-information-topic-food-and-dietary-supplements/infant-formula-guidance-documents-regulatory-information
  7. https://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multimedia/multimedia_pub/multimedia_pub_fsf_14_02.html
  8. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/heavy-metal-poisoning/ 9. Rai, P.K., et al., Heavy metals in food crops; Health risks, fate, mechanisms, and management. Environment International, 2019. 125: p. 365-368.
Jenny Dang
Author: Jenny Dang

Hi there! I'm Jenny, a writer at Little Étoile with three years of experience in researching and crafting stories that make a difference. I'm on a mission to help moms and their little ones live healthier and happier lives through insightful and practical content. Let's make this journey of motherhood a delightful adventure together!