Last night there were calls for urgent new safety rules to control the presence of the poisons in foods intended for young children.
Researchers found feeding infants twice a day on the shop-bought baby foods such as rice porridge can increase their exposure to arsenic by up to fifty times when compared to breast feeding alone.
The findings come as officials at the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission are conducting an urgent review to establish new limits for the long term exposure of these contaminants in food.
The products tested by the researchers were made by major baby food manufacturers including Organix, Hipp, Nestle and Holle – some of which are available in British supermarkets.
Among the baby foods found to contain elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in the tests by the researchers was Organix First Organic Whole Grain Baby Rice, which they found contained two micrograms of arsenic per portion, along with 0.03 micrograms of cadmium and 0.09 micrograms of lead. This product is sold by Boots in the UK.
Ahhh….a microgram or two. 2 ppm (parts per million). Or the cadmium, 30 ppb (parts per billion).
These metals certainly can be dangerous, but as we know it’s the dose that is the poison. Whether these metals are dangerous at these levels is something a little unknown. Certainly, they’re below the currently accepted limits for what we think does cause damage. In fact, it’s only in the last couple of decades that we’ve been able to test to these levels at less than exorbitant cost.
Note that no one is saying that there’s anything dodgy going on either. These are simply the trace amounts picked up as plants grow in various soils. This itself can indeed be a problem: there are areas around Chilcompton in Somerset where you’re advised not to eat home grown cabbages because of the lead content picked up from the soils.
Me, given my suspicious little mind, think that this is where the root of the story is:
She added that breast feeding until babies were six months old appeared to be the best way to keep infants’ exposure to these toxic contaminants as low as possible as they seemed to be filtered out by the mothers’ body.
Yup, the female body is prettyy good at acting as a filter for such metals. Levels will be lower in milk than in the mother’s body for example. But I can’t help feeling that this is more of another shot in the ongoing “breast is best” wars than actually truly independent research into the toxicity of baby foods.
I mean, seriously, 30 ppb Cd? I’d be surprised if your average potato wasn’t at around that level.