By Kathleen Doheny
Aug. 16, 2018 -- Heavy metals at levels called ''troublesome'' are lurking in foods commonly eaten by babies and toddlers, according to a new Consumer Reports investigation.
Scientists there studied 50 packaged foods made for children, from cereals to snacks, testing three samples of each. They estimated how much of each food a child typically eats, then looked at medical research on what levels of the heavy metals could cause health issues.
"We found troublesome levels of heavy metals, in particular inorganic arsenic, cadmium, or lead, in every single sample," says James Dickerson, PhD, Consumer Reports' chief scientific officer. "These heavy metals shouldn’t be in food, period.'' They can damage the nervous system, cause cancer, and harm children's development, he says.
Yet, "it's not that surprising'' the heavy metals were there, he says. They are found in nature. Most heavy metals in food come from water or soil contaminated through farming or manufacturing processes, from the use of pesticides, or pollution from leaded gasoline, the report explains.
What was especially concerning, Dickerson says, is that about two-thirds, or 68%, of the tested foods had very high levels of the heavy metals. "What we are concerned about is if you feed your child this [food with high levels of heavy metals], over the lifetime of their development, particularly during birth to 4, then you will have an increased risk of having cancer, for example."