For instance, it's incredibly common for even the highest-quality 'organic' produce to contain levels of heavy metals such as lead in amounts that drastically exceed California's prop 65 standards. Things like avocados and watermelons often have close to 10x more lead than what prop 65 considers acceptable. Spinach, wines, cruciferous vegetables and nuts tend to be even worse. Even when grown in relatively unpolluted soils with 'natural' lead levels (50-400 ppm range), many such produce items STILL drastically exceed prop 65 standards.
That said, I'm not a food safety expert or toxicologist, so I might have an incredibly bad take on this.
The report is also full of frankly offensive conjecture. You'll find statements like, "Whether due to evasion or negligence, Sprout’s failure to respond raises serious concerns about the presence of toxic heavy metals in its baby foods," about any company that didn't respond to the committee in the way they felt appropriate.
They also repeatedly state that the levels of heavy metals in baby foods are unsafe but they never actually make a case for it. They just take it as truth and titled the report as such.
Finally, I would keep in mind that this is a congressional oversight committee staff report. This wasn't made by scientists. Nobody involved in the creation of the report has working knowledge of food safety or testing procedures. All testing in the report was provided by the companies in question. This report was made by a team of people working for the House as the foundation for proposing new laws and regulations and as such it's an inherently political report.
Frankly, after the publishing of this report it's doubtful that any company will be willing to work with this subcommittee ever again and they would be right to refuse.
To me it reads like cognitive dissonance. They write multiple damning statements (yes based in science) but conclude with 'voluntary changes' and 'more research'.
I'll mention that the piece speaks about FDA not needing baby food manufacturers to test the final product of the food, only the ingredients. Multiple independent studies confirm that the manufacturing of baby food products is outrageous, in terms of what is allowed. Compared to adult food, it's a double standard.
Instead, baby foods should be held to a higher standard. But this Democrat Committee is okay with 3 companies (of 7) not responding to their inquiry, only 'suggesting' private changes, and kicks the can down the road with a cop-out like 'more research needs to be done by the FDA'.
It's a long document but corruption and negligence is bipartisan .
 - This is b/c the report condemns Trump for hiding hazardous facts about baby food products but then with those facts they/Dem-led only commit to lip service.
We did extensive research (my wife's waking hours were consumed with this). We found Hipp Combiotic milk, and it was wonderful. It was a German brand, and adhered to EU standards for child health. Colic: gone. Within a month or two our child hit the 98% percentile for size and weight and stayed there.
Shortly after the baby switched to solid food, the U.S. began to "crack down" on imported formula that "didn't meet FDA standards." The EU standards for food safety are generally higher than FDA standards. I'm so glad we were able to get that formula before the government interfered.
For what it’s worth, it’s very hard to be sure switching brands is the causation of a better outcome vs just a correlation. Babies change rapidly so it’s possible that unrelated development is there true source of recovery. But it was definitely a dramatic difference for us exactly when we switched formulas too.
Hipp didn't have corn syrup, and did have the right nutrients for each stage.
The formulas available on the American market were all loaded with sweetener and caused colic. This is an anecdote, but so is what's presented in that article.
Interesting. Sucrose, glucose, fructose have same amount of calories as lactose, just different sweetness (apparently evolutionary trait so that babies don’t get too addicted to milk).
Wouldn’t you want to be on 50th percentile?
Kiddo is in first grade now, still the size of a child roughly two years older, no fat, just healthy.
We tried for three months. My wife was reaching the end of her rope, emotionally (PPD is a horrifying thing). Formula that worked was a godsend.
This was our first child. We took the classes, even selected a hospital based on their success rate with natural childbirth. We had intended for no drugs, breastfeeding, all the ideals of caring for an infant...
The baby was a few days late. We went in for an ultrasound, as we had to do daily at that point. As the ultrasound completed, the nurse told us we'd have to stay. When the baby is getting ready to come out, it drinks the amniotic fluid, so there's much less of it. That should have coincided with the beginning of labor, but it didn't. We had to induce.
I went home to get our bags for the hospital stay. When I came back, they began to induce labor with pitosin. It was an agonizingly slow process, and it was failing. After 60+ hours of labor, with the back of the baby's head pushing against my wife's spine ("back labor") my wife chose an epidural for the pain.
It didn't work. At 72 hours of inducing, at maximum recommended doses of pitosin, the baby's heart rate was indicating distress, and dilation was still insufficient.
We had a C-section. Later, the baby couldn't nurse properly. We used formula.
We'd wanted to do what was natural, had planned to do it. If that had been all we had, we'd have lost both mother and child in childbirth. If, in another age, we'd not had the means to hire a wet nurse, we'd have lost the child even if it had been born properly.
I'm so glad that we were able to get all the care we needed.
1. If the baby food companies are correct and the contamination is coming from the soil, isn't it safer to buy baby food that's at least tested than feeding my son homemade food when I don't know which farms it comes from?
2. Is this heavy metal soil contamination new? Babies have been fed manufactured purees for several generations already, so you would think we'd be able to observe results of heavy metal consumption in the older population.
3. The report's only recommendation to parents is that they stop feeding foods with heavy metals to babies, but they don't provide a complete list of products to avoid, which any recall would. Why?
I definitely wanted to throw away all my baby food when I read this, but now I feel like it's pointless. Unless I fed my baby a vegan diet from fruits and vegetables I grew on soil I personally tested, I don't think it's possible to avoid these heavy metals entirely. Am I wrong?
2. No and levels may be lower now compared to years ago when we had more heavy industry.
3. It's a hit piece and shouldn't be taken at face value.
Consumer reports (and others) have been discussing the high levels of Arsenic in all Rice grown in the US (even organic). Its in the soil from previous growing methods (older pesticides I believe).
On the other hand, lead, mercury and cadmium in these foods is news to me...
Companies such as Walmart refused Congressional inquiry.
The food we’ve been feeding our babies has 10-30x the legal limits of what is allowed in our drinking water. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m very tempted to go buy a pitch fork.
Not attempting to defend the food industry here, but I also don't really see an obviously viable path to remediating the situation.
We still use lead in many aircraft fuels.
Start with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_fuel if you want to. And from there on to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JP-8 and learn that they use this in military diesel powered vehicles on the road, too!
If nothing else it is evidence of a societal issue that has pushed mothers away from breast feeding (where presumably the human body is able to filter background levels of heavy metals) towards consumer products harvested with no evidence for quality controls.
Strangely, however, the report does compare EU standards for baby formula to raw ingredients used in the preparation of the solid foods being examined. Yet another strange thing in addition to comparing contaminant levels with drinking water that doesn't pass a smell test.
Are only babies at risk, or are we all?
"Voluntary phase-out of toxic ingredients—Manufacturers should voluntarily find substitutes for ingredients that are high in toxic heavy metals, or phase out products that have high amounts of ingredients that frequently test high in toxic heavy metals, such as rice;"
Various places. One of the culprits, arsenic in rice, is a problem that was exacerbated by the use of arsenic-containing pesticides in fields where cotton was previously grown. It also simply appears to be a plant that picks up a lot of heavy metals.
Some rice brands are publishing the results of their testing for arsenic:
It's an interesting FAQ with some other factoids, too... apparently their quinoa doesn't have a detectable amount of arsenic. Brown rice syrup has the same concentration of arsenic as the rice it is made from. And so on.