By now, you have probably heard about the terrifying report about toxins in baby foods. While this report brings new data to light, this is really not in any way surprising and is unfortunately a sad reminder about our current food system.
Many parents have questioned what they should be feeding their kids based on this information.
Here are some thoughts I have as a Pediatrician and father:
- Heavy metals can be found naturally in foods. Not all metal is bad.
- We can’t avoid all metal.
The goal is to reduce our toxic heavy metal exposure as much as possible within reason.
- The amount of metal in most baby foods have a low likelihood of causing imminent harm. The bigger concern we should have is the long-term cumulative effects this may be having on children.
- This is definitely concerning information, but is likely not a new problem or a problem limited to a few brands.
- We have known that arsenic and other metals are leached from the soil causing high levels in rice cereal for years. Rice cereal was once the most common food to start in babies. That has since fallen out of vogue.
- Pediatricians often monitor lead levels in babies around 9m-1-year-old for those that are open to getting the blood test. We have not been seeing higher lead levels that I am aware of.
- The increase in chemical levels of all of these metals in our air, water, and soil related to runoff or pollution from chemicals used in manufacturing and farming around the US and around the world is not new but it is scary.
- This is why many of us who care about children are so intent upon having strong environmental regulations and policies to protect our children.
- These metals are in our foods and children have likely been exposed to these high levels for years. Like so much of parenting, this is a “do the best you can within reason” scenario.
- There is likely no reason to test for heavy metals in your child at this time though you certainly can get testing done if you wish.
- Please advocate for strong environmental regulations to protect all children!
What can you do?
- Control what you can control.
- Feed your family more fruits and vegetables.
- Grow your own food.
- Cook your own food.
- Make your own baby food.
- Read all labels.
- Assume, if a food is processed, in a box or package, there are chemicals you don’t want your kids eating.
- Limit the amount of rice cereal products and products where research has shown there to be high levels of metals.
- Look for labelling that explicitly states “low in chemical/metal X.”
- Eat organic. Period!
- Consider a family heavy metal detox.
Many small companies go the extra mile to ensure their products not only meet the standards set, but are free of toxins. Big companies, most often, don’t worry as much about you and more about the bottom line. We must recognize that there are a very limited set of rules big companies must follow and even though we want to believe they are doing thorough testing and have safe products, the reality is, they often just skate by the rules.
There are still many chemicals (in reality most chemicals) that are unregulated that can make you sick and so the company is not obligated to take those items out of your child’s breakfast.
As a parent, you have to worry about you and your family. This is just another in a long line of wake up calls this year as it relates to our health.