You know what really grinds my gears - lead in baby food.
Like, HOW does ANYONE think that lead in baby food is a good thing?
After the recent FDA study that found baby food ingredients have on average up to 177 times the approved level of lead allowed, I was motivated to write this blog.
I went down the rabbit hole as many of you probably have.
So with my newfound information, I’m going to give you a guide on lead in baby food and a few ways to reduce the number of harmful toxins that your baby is exposed to.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, scientist, nor do I have a medical degree (outside of Dr. Google), and I’m speaking today as a concerned parent—a mom of five and a soon-to-be mom of six.
Contents - Lead in Baby Food:
What is Lead and Why Is It Used in Food?
Lead is a chemical element.
It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials.
Okay, but how does that end up in my food?
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lead occurs in baby food because of its presence in the environment.
Lead can enter our foods supply because:
- Lead in the soil can settle on or be absorbed by plants grown for fruits or vegetables or plants used as ingredients in food, including dietary supplements.
- Lead that gets into or on plants cannot be entirely removed by washing or other food processing steps.
- Lead in plants or water may also be ingested and absorbed by the animals we eat, which is then passed on to us.
- Lead can enter, inadvertently, through manufacturing processes. For example, plumbing that contains lead can contaminate water used in food production.
- Lead in some pottery and other food contact surfaces containing lead can pass or leach lead into food or drinks when food is prepared, served, or stored in them.
How Lead Can Affect Child Development
Lead is simply poisonous to people of every age and health status.
Lead is especially harmful to infants, pregnant women, young children, and those with chronic health conditions.
High levels of lead exposure can severely harm the health and development of children and babies.
Neurological effects from high levels of lead exposure during early childhood include learning disabilities, behavior difficulties, and lowered IQ.
Because lead in baby food can accumulate in the body, even low-level chronic exposure can be hazardous over time.
What You Need to Know Today About Lead in Baby Food
Babies are tiny!
Their little immune systems are building up, and their bodies are growing.
Lead is a known toxin that can lead to brain damage.
If you weren’t already aware, lead paint and pipes were a considerable contributor to lead poisoning in infants and babies.
We now know better, and everything that comes into contact with babies and children is regulated and regularly tested for their safety- including tests for lead.
I have just assumed that lead wouldn’t be in consumables, and if it were a natural occurrence, baby food would be highly regulated.
I assumed wrong. Yikes.
In February of 2021, CNN reported that four industry-leading baby food manufacturers knowingly sold baby food that contained high levels of toxic heavy metals.
"Dangerous levels of toxic metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury exist in baby foods at levels that exceed what experts and governing bodies say are permissible," said. Raja Krishnamoorthi.
As parents, we’re always concerned about what chemicals we clean with, what is relatively safe if they somehow consume it, and everything that comes in contact with their skin and digestive tract.
What Else Should I Be Aware of?
Arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are in the World Health Organizations’ top 10 chemicals of concern for infants and children.
These should never be in our children’s food.
Okay, okay, okay, I know.
Yes, there are naturally occurring elements in the soil which the crops grow in - trace levels I can live with—concerning levels not so much.
More concerning is that the FDA has yet to set minimum levels for heavy metals in most infant food.
Remember when infant rice cereal was cause for concern?
Only then did the FDA set a standard of 100 parts per billion, but even that is too much for your baby’s safety.
IF the FDA can set a much lower standard for bottled water (10 parts per billion), why are the tiniest and most vulnerable of the population being put at risk?
How To Reduce Your Child's Lead Exposure
If you are using jarred baby food - I’m not judging you. At all.
I still keep some on hand, and even my older kiddos love those jarred nanas, but when companies such as Beech-Nut and Gerber showed levels of heavy metals far above the limits of bottled water, it makes you think.
If organic brands such as Plum Organics refuse to cooperate with investigations that have my child's best interest at heart?
Will one jar here and there have any effect? Eh. Probably not.
Again, I’m not a scientist or medical professional, but I will be choosing to continue baby-led weaning in the future.
How I Protect My Kids from Lead In Baby Food
Over the years of using sustainable, less “chemical-ly” items and working for a progressive parenting company, I’ve become more and more aware of what products I’m using- especially what’s touching my food.
We store everything we can in Planet Wise. AND I MEAN EVERYTHING.
Consumable or otherwise, if Planet Wise has a wet bag, food storage bag, or wrap, I’m using it.
Our meal prep hangs out in leak-proof bags, cilantro stores super well in sandwich bags, marinated chicken in the deep freezer in the gallon-sized leak-proof bags, and even popcorn on the go-lives in a wet bag.
Outside of the Planet Wise wonderful goodness, I have an obsessive amount of Klean Kanteens that I use for the kid’s sippy cups, tumblers for the dinner table, and my morning (read all day) cuppa joe. These guys are BPA and Lead-free. WOOO!
Conclusion - Lead In Baby Food
Everything we do is for our kids.
They’re the future, and we love them with all of our hearts.
That’s why it’s so frustrating when we find out that we could be hurting them by feeding them lead in baby food.
It’s outrageous to me that we could be doing everything right and still be putting our children at risk.
The best way to stay on top of things is to follow the news (as much as I hate it) and the studies on baby food to make sure we know exactly what we are putting in our baby’s bodies and avoid lead in baby food.
Also, I use Planet Wise products to store my leftovers and baby food.
They are made from 100% all-natural materials meaning your baby’s food won’t be exposed to dangerous toxic materials.
With free shipping on all orders over $10, now is the best time to take steps to protect your child.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on how to make your own baby food.
Don’t worry - I won't overcomplicate things.
We are BUSY parents and caregivers. Easy is key!