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Consumer Reports urges FDA to take immediate action to limit heavy metals in baby food

CR testifies at hearing on FDA’s Closer to Zero plan today

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to move more quickly to adopt strict limits on toxic heavy metals commonly found in popular baby foods. Dr. Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist at Consumer Reports, is testifying today at the FDA’s hearing on its Closer to Zero plan, which the agency launched earlier this year to address the health risks posed by heavy metals in food.

For over a decade, CR has called on the FDA to establish strict limits given its own tests and research by others showing concerning levels of heavy metals in baby food that can pose serious health problems in children over time.

“There is ample evidence that heavy metals in food pose serious long-term health risks, especially to children,” said Hansen.  “The good news is that research by CR and others has demonstrated that it’s feasible for manufacturers to significantly reduce heavy metals in baby food. The FDA should speed up its timeline for adopting strict limits on heavy metals so that vulnerable children are protected and not needlessly exposed to these toxic contaminants.”

Under the Closer to Zero program, the FDA will evaluate the scientific basis for setting limits on levels of heavy metals permitted in baby foods—starting with lead and followed by arsenic, then other heavy metals—and propose limits based on those reviews.

But according to the FDA’s timeline, the limits won’t be set for several years. For example, the FDA says a limit for lead will be proposed by April 2022, and finalized sometime between 2022 and 2024. It doesn’t plan to propose a limit for arsenic until at least 2022. Suggested limits for cadmium and mercury won’t be issued until at least 2024.

A complete copy of Dr. Hansen’s testimony on the FDA’s Closer to Zero plan can be found here.