CR calls for strict limits on other heavy metals in baby food to protect children from dangerous exposure
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports praised the announcement today by the Beech Nut Nutrition Company that it has agreed to voluntarily recall its Beech Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal because it contains levels of inorganic arsenic that exceed the guidance level adopted by the agency to protect infants and toddlers from exposure. In addition, the company has decided to no longer sell the product because of concerns that it may not be able to consistently abide by the guidance level in the future.
Today’s recall was possible because the FDA set guidance level limits on inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal in August 2020. But there are no limits on arsenic in other baby foods or limits for other heavy metals, including cadmium, lead, and mercury despite the potential health risk to young children. CR is calling on Congress to require the FDA to adopt strict limits by passing the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021.
“We’ve known for years that toxic heavy metals are found in popular baby foods and can lead to serious health problems in children over time,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports. “This recall underscores why we need strict limits to keep dangerous heavy metals out of the food that so many parents serve their young children every day. Congress should pass the Baby Food Safety Act so that the FDA can better protect vulnerable infants and toddlers from being exposed to toxic substances in the food they eat.”
For more than 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. In April, the FDA announced an action plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, but the timeline for adopting limits would leave infants exposed to concerning levels of toxic substances for the next several years. It’s unclear whether the plan will result in the kind of strict limits needed to protect children, according to Consumer Reports.
In March, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, along with U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, introduced the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021, which requires the FDA to establish aggressive limits for baby cereal and all other baby foods for cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead, and mercury that would go into effect two years after the bill is signed into law.