The greatest offenders were rice-based infant meals, which were found to contain 94% of the hazardous heavy metals tested for. A consumer advocacy organisation called Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) commissioned the study, which found that nearly all of the 168 infant meals tested had amounts of one of four heavy metals that have been linked to brain damage. Lead was detected in 94% of samples, followed by cadmium (75%), arsenic (73%), and mercury (32%) as the next most frequent. A quarter of the meals tested had all four heavy metals, including both niche and mainstream brands.
Concerns about heavy metals in infant diets have been around since 2011, when a number of advocacy groups began doing similar trials. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a team of scientists to handle the matter. In addition to airborne toxins, fertiliser pollution of irrigation water or crops, and other sources, the problem occurs.
Inorganic arsenic levels were high in rice-based snacks & meals, and they were virtually invariably contaminated with all four hazardous metals. Water used to irrigate paddy fields is notorious for carrying contaminants like heavy metals, and rice is a particularly good carrier of heavy metal pollution. According to the HBBF study, children from birth to 24 months lose 11 million IQ points as a result of poor eating.
According to the report, FDA and others have suggested solutions for food processors, including “resourcing rice from meadows with lower levels of arsenic in soil, cultivating it with natural soil additives that decrease arsenic absorption by the roots, cultivating rice species less prone to uptake of arsenic, changing irrigation practises, making rice with extra water that is drained, and mixing it with grains having lower arsenic in mult.”
Also, the US Whole Foods stores have praised Teresa Purzner, a Canadian neurosurgeon and Ph.D. in developmental neurobiology from Stanford University, for creating Cerebelly, a new brand of nutrient-rich infant food.