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New Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines call for reducing — not eliminating — lead in baby foods

The Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidelines Tuesday breaks down the maximum amount of lead that can be found in baby food products, part of the organization closer to zero An initiative aimed at reducing children’s exposure to harmful contaminants in food.

“The proposed action levels will significantly reduce lead exposure from food while ensuring the availability of nutritious foods,” the FDA said. Twitter.

The FDA said in the report that prolonged lead exposure could lead to “learning difficulties, behavioral difficulties, and decreased IQ,” as well as “immunological, cardiovascular, renal, reproductive, and/or developmental effects.” It is widely present” in the environment naturally, in part due to human activities.

“Because lead may be present in environments where food crops are used to make food intended for infants and young children, various foods may contain small amounts of lead,” the FDA said. “Potential sources of lead in food include contaminated soil where crops are grown, contaminated water, atmospheric deposits from industrial activities, and old lead-containing equipment used in food processing.”

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There is no truly safe level of lead, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Today’s announcement that stricter standards for toxic metals in baby food are in place is an important advance by the FDA,” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. statment.

The new guidelines – which are not mandatory for food manufacturers – define the following amounts as acceptable in baby food for children under the age of two:

  • 10 parts per billion, or parts per billion, for fruits, vegetables (excluding single-ingredient root vegetables), mixtures (including cereals and meat-based mixtures), yogurt, custards/puddings, and single-ingredient meats;
  • 20 ppb for root vegetables (one ingredient); And
  • 20 ppb for dry infant cereal.

“The purpose of this guidance is to provide information to industry about working levels of lead in food intended for children and young children,” the FDA said in the guidance.

“…the Close to Zero Action Plan outlines other actions we will take to further reduce lead (as well as other toxic elements) in food and we expect that the industry will strive for sustained reductions over time.”

The plan does not list new guidelines or reduction plans Other toxic chemicals found in baby foodsuch as cadmium, arsenic, or mercury.

“Today’s issued working levels for lead, the first toxic heavy metal the agency has dealt with, are not sufficient to protect the next generation of children from harmful heavy metals in their food,” read a statement from the advocacy organization. Bright future for healthy children.

The group also noted that new FDA regulations do not apply to teething biscuits, which studies have shown account for seven of the 10 highest lead levels in more than 1,000 food tests conducted by the organization.

Young mother grocery shopping
Young mother grocery shopping

d3sign / Getty Images

“These proposed levels of action are not enough to get us close to zero,” said Charlotte Brody, the organization’s national director.

The motion levels released by the FDA today put a rubber stamp on the status quo—demonstrating that current levels of lead in baby food are “close enough.” Why the FDA’s Closer to Zero program spent years creating proposed guidelines that wouldn’t Are you doing enough to make baby food safer?”

Jane Houlihan, the group’s director of research, told CBS News, “As it stands, the FDA appears to be picking rough numbers it thinks the industry can easily meet. But there’s a lot companies can take to the lower levels, from testing to selection.” Fields with lower levels of lead in the soil, to amend soil additives and to select crop varieties that accumulate less lead.”

“We’ve seen with baby rice cereal and applesauce (two foods that have arsenic and/or lead in place) that when the FDA releases action levels, the industry can significantly reduce the amounts of these toxic metals in their products,” Houlihan said. .

According to a analysis Commissioned by the group, children under the age of two in the United States lose more than 11 million IQ points from exposure to heavy metals in food.

last year, The HBBF study found that 94% of processed baby foods, family foods and homemade purees made from purchased raw foods contain detectable amounts of one or more heavy metals – lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium.

Lead is also found in 90% of processed baby foods, 80% of store-bought family foods, and homemade pureed foods.