Mothers and fathers should be more cautious when buying food for their babies. Scientists announced on Wednesday terrible news: a big part of products that most parents buy for their babies consumption contain significant levels of arsenic, a chemical element that produces several short and long-term health illnesses on humans.

To make matters worse, the result suggests that around 80 percent of infant formulas contain this toxic metalloid.

Arsenic in baby food, The Clean Label Project, Baby food
The study found most baby food products contain considerable amounts of arsenic. Image credit: What To Expect

To determine how many dangerous components there were in baby food, The Clean Label Project  a nonprofit advocating for transparent labeling  tasted all kind of products used on babies’ diets: infant formulas, toddler drinks, and popular snacks.

The investigation included everything from the most recognized brands in the markets to the emerging national brands.

In the end, the researchers felt surprised when they realized the few amount of products that did not contain any toxic compound.

Brands selling contaminated food for babies

The scientists spent five months testing the products to make sure they were not committing any mistake, and to see if their process and result were accurate. While testing, scientists compared each infant product to a Nielson data. This led them to a critical finding.

From a total of 350 different products usually bought for infant consumption, the testing suggested that 65 percent of them contained arsenic. Thirty-five percent were positive for lead, 58 percent for cadmium, and 10 percent for acrylamide.

The US Food and Drug Administration prohibited brands from distributing infant rice cereal with more than 100 parts per billion of arsenic. Rice that grows in contaminated soil often tends to absorb the contaminant.

Unfortunately, after this study, it seems that companies are not taking this limit very seriously.

“It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food,” Peter Cassell, an FDA spokesperson, said.

Thousands of doctors around the world agree that all of these chemicals come with severe consequences for anyone who’s consuming them in great amounts. Often, people do it unconsciously and realize when it’s too late. However, the results for babies could be even worse than for adults. Unlike them, infants don’t have all their systems developed. When talking specifically about arsenic, it can potentially produce infants cerebral damages.

Despite the fact that Jennifer Lowry was not involved in the research, she expressed that people should carefully watch what they’re buying for their kids. According to the pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., these dangerous chemicals can affect motor skills and cognition.

Arsenic in baby food, The Clean Label Project, Baby food
Gerber products reportedly tested positive for dangerous chemicals. Image credit: Amazon

Jaclyn Bowen, a food safety scientist from the Clean Label Project, said that she was very concerned about the study  which also revealed that the food that has the highest levels of arsenic is the rice-based baby food, such as snack puffs. She asked the “baby industry” to be very alert on what they’re putting on their products.

“The baby industry needs to do a better job in protecting America’s most vulnerable population,” said Jaclyn Bowen, the executive director of Clean Label Project.

Many renowned brands were also found to make products full of the dangerous chemicals. The Clean Label Project’s discovered that Gerber, Enfamil, Plum Organics, and Sprout were among the worst. Two of them scored in the Project’s report card for toxic metals.

In fact, 60 percent of products that are known for being completely BPA free  it’s even marked on their envelopes  ended not being “totally free” of the industrial chemical Bisphenol A, at all.

Of course, some unhealthy compounds vary depending on the product. But some of them tested positive for up to 600 parts of arsenic per billion. Scientists can’t even trace that vast amounts.

Arsenic can produce cancer on people

The World Health Organization warns people of consuming these contaminants, which are commonly found in groundwater and can lead to cancer.

Arsenic, which was the most commonly found element in babies’ food, tends to be consumed by many people in the world. As the contaminant is naturally presented at high levels in the groundwater of a series of countries, and many companies don’t properly clean the water before distributing it, most of its consumers don’t know they’re ingesting the compound.

People who consume arsenic can instantly suffer from vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. According to WHO, people can even die in extreme cases.

The long-term effects are different  and worse, for sure. Those under low exposures of arsenic for around five years tend to experience “pigmentation changes, skin lesions and hard patches” on the hands and feet. However, this is are the best of cases. Even worse, people can develop skin cancer or cancers of the bladder and lungs.

Source: The Clean Label Project