There have been some posts flying around social media over the past week, about some worrying research flagging the high levels of pollutants in baby food.
It is about some data published by the US government earlier this year, which found that most bought baby food is contaminated with extremely high levels of toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium. The baby food brands they tested were contaminated with up to 91 times more inorganic arsenic, 117 times more lead, and 69 times more cadmium than the FDA’s maximum allowable levels in bottled water.
These neurotoxins can affect a baby’s immunity and development and high levels of heavy metals have been cited by many studies to be a key contributor to autism severity, ADHD, lower IQ and speech delay, as well as childhood leukaemia – all of which have been on the rise in recent years.
Thankfully, UK laws are a bit stricter than in the USA, which means that these pollutants are tested for more regularly-but the system is certainly not perfect, and this study has not been carried out on European baby food brands yet!
The US brands that were tested and showed the highest levels of impurities were both organic and non-organic, so sadly an organic label doesn’t mean 100% safe either! This is because the pollutants have settled in the soil and are also found in rain and the air, so they are pretty difficult to avoid entirely.
Rice contains more arsenic than any other food, and many non-organic fruits and vegetables have higher levels than their organic equivalents. This is partly because arsenic is used in some pesticides and fertilizers. Like lead, mercury, and other heavy metals, arsenic can persist in soil for years after it is applied to crops.
So, what can you do to ensure your baby’s food is safer to eat?
- Cook from scratch at least 80% of the time
- Choose organic ingredients where possible
- Wash and soak veg, fruit and rice thoroughly
- Peel fruit and veg, especially in a baby’s first year
- Avoid baby rice, rice crispies & rice milk in the first year. Keep gluten free flour’s that are rich in rice flour and rice cakes to a minimum
- Vary grains as much as possible – think oats, millet, barley, quinoa and buckwheat and use legume flours like chickpea and red lentil or ground nuts.
My cookbook I Can’t Believe It’s Baby Food! gives you step by step guidelines on how to choose food ingredients, and how to prepare your little one’s meals confidently and safely, so their food is both super nutritious and safe. And this helps give you peace of mind, so you can all relax and enjoy eating together.