Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 5 Actions the FDA Can Take To Reduce Heavy Metal Toxins in Baby Food
Press Release

RELEASE: 5 Actions the FDA Can Take To Reduce Heavy Metal Toxins in Baby Food

Washington, D.C. — There is no amount of heavy metal in baby food that is considered safe. The consumption of these toxins—including lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and manganese—poses significant long-term and irreversible health and developmental consequences, especially for young children. Yet, lenient and lacking U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on heavy metals fail to protect children from these toxins in their food and in their environment. A new Center for American Progress report calls on the FDA to further revise its guidance and offers five recommendations for how to reduce the risk of exposure to heavy metal toxins in baby food. 

The first five years of life are critical to children’s brain and biological development. Given the unique vulnerabilities of toxin exposure for young children, this new CAP report outlines five recommendations for the FDA and other federal agencies to help protect infants and children from dietary and environmental exposure and reduce health disparities. These recommendations include adopting more stringent FDA action levels for lead in baby foods; lowering action levels for other heavy metals often found in food products marketed for children; expanding FDA guidance to include more infant food products; increasing investments in the FDA’s oversight capacity of food production and distribution and for monitoring compliance with standards; and fortifying interagency collaboration to reduce avenues for heavy metal exposure. 

“The FDA has taken steps to keep children safe, but a more aggressive approach with tighter restrictions on heavy metals in food is urgently needed to support the health of young children. Exposure to heavy metal toxins is a preventable health crisis for infants and toddlers,” said Jill Rosenthal, director of public health policy at CAP and co-author of the report. 

“Foods that parents rely on to feed their children should not expose their child to potential dangerous health and development risks. To ensure the health of young children, the FDA needs to expand its oversight capacity so that parents don’t live in fear that the foods they are feeding their child will cause long-term damage,” said Hailey Gibbs, senior policy analyst for early childhood policy and co-author of the report. 

“Black, Indigenous, and low-income children already face disproportionately high rates of exposure to environmental pollution and toxins through infrastructure and water. Federal actions to reduce dietary and environmental exposure must prioritize these populations in order to mitigate health disparities,” said Allie Schneider, research associate for early childhood policy and co-author of the report. 

Read the report here: “5 Actions the FDA Can Take To Reduce Heavy Metal Toxins in Baby Food” by Jill Rosenthal, Hailey Gibbs, and Allie Schneider

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at [email protected]

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