U.S. House panel: Heavy metals found in some baby foods

Parents are reacting to a report released by Congress on dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals found in several brands of baby food

"It's definitely alarming," one mom said. "It's scary. Wouldn't feed my son poison."

Findings from baby food manufacturers including Gerber, Hain Celestial Group (which sells Earth's Best), Nurture, and Beech-Nut indicate that significant levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury were found in the baby foods, according to a staff report by the U.S. House subcommittee on economic and consumer policy. In the report, the subcommittee also expressed concerns that baby food made by Walmart, Campbell, and Sprout may also be tainted with toxic heavy metals as they failed to cooperate with the investigation altogether. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday urged the FDA to take action to set standards related to toxic metals across all baby foods. 

Exposure to these metals could damage a baby's developing brain, according to Dr. Marc Lashley of Allied Physicians Group. 

"We trust on the government to monitor the safety of our foods," he said. "And to find out that maybe this has gone unnoticed or unreported is extremely unsettling."

Lashley, a pediatrician, did stress the importance of babies getting enough iron, most commonly found in rice and oatmeal cereal, when they start solid foods around 4 to 6 months.

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In a statement, the FDA told FOX 5 NY that toxic elements, like arsenic, are present in the environment and enter the food supply through the soil, water, or air. But because they cannot be completely removed, the FDA's goal is to continue to work towards reducing toxic elements in foods. The agency acknowledged more work needs to be done

The House subcommittee recommended that the FDA should require manufacturers to report toxic heavy metals on food labels and find substitutes for ingredients that have high levels.

We reached out to the manufacturers included in the report. 

A spokesperson from Hain told FOX 5 NY the subcommittee report examined outdated data, which doesn't reflect the company's current practices.

Both Hain and Gerber said they will support efforts to reduce naturally occurring heavy metals and will continue working with the FDA to make sure they exceed safety and nutrition standards.

In a statement to FOX 5 NY, the maker of Beech-Nut food said it was reviewing the subcommittee report.

"We want to reassure parents that Beech-Nut products are safe and nutritious," Beech-Nut Nutrition said in the statement. "We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA, in partnership with the Baby Food Council, on science-based standards that food suppliers can implement across our industry."