Baby Food & Heavy Metals


94 percent baby food, fruits and vegetables tested contain heavy metals  that can harm kid’s brains *

No child should be exposed to lead or harmful chemicals in their food. But heavy metals including lead and arsenic are found in 94% of baby food, fruits and vegetables new report finds. 

What it means for babies’ health: Lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury are neurotoxins that can harm the developing brain, are linked to learning disabilities and ADHD and can affect behavior. 

Why baby foods contain these toxic heavy metals: These four harmful metals are found in all food – not just baby food. They occur naturally or from pollution in the environment. Crops absorb them from soil and water, and they are even found in organic food.

How to protect your family: Some popular baby foods, fruits and vegetables have higher levels of heavy metals, like rice-based snacks, juice, carrots and sweet potatoes. Here’s what you can do.

The good news is that we can decrease our exposure to heavy metals in food by avoiding or lessening how much children eat of the most contaminated foods and eating a varied diet. 

Top findings in Healthy Babies Brighter Futures’ report:

  • 94% of all food samples we tested contained detectable amounts of toxic heavy metals: 94% of store-bought baby food and 94% of homemade purees and family brand foods. 
  • Rice cakes and crisped rice cereal are heavily contaminated with arsenic. The contain higher levels of inorganic arsenic (the toxic form of arsenic) than any other foods tested. Both stand out as foods to avoid for children and adults. (We also know that infant rice cereal has high levels of arsenic.)
  • Lead, arsenic, and cadmium levels are high in some fresh carrots and sweet potatoes. We recommend that parents vary the source by choosing different brands, varieties, or stores each week to avoid accidentally serving a high-metal source often. 
  • The 10 most heavily contaminated foods consumed by babies, beginning with the highest, are: rice cakes; crisped rice cereal; rice-based puffs; brown rice; rice-based teething biscuits and rusks; white rice; raisins; teething crackers (non-rice); granola bar with raisins; oat-ring cereal.
  • The 10 least contaminated foods consumed by babies, beginning with the lowest, are: bananas; grits; baby food brand meats; butternut squash; lamb; apples; pork; eggs; oranges; watermelon. 

LDA and our state affiliates were proud to participate in this report. LDA volunteers in 12 states joined other shoppers and sent in baby foods and the fresh fruits and vegetables for testing. We will continue to push for real solutions because we believe all food and products should be free from chemicals that can harm children’s brain health.

Source: Healthy Babies Bright Future. Learn more at We are a proud partner of HBBF, and co-released the 2019 and the 2022 reports.



– Healthy Babies Bright Futures Tip Sheet (HBBF Tip Sheet for Healthy Food_ENG)
– Healthy Babies Bright Futures Chart – What to Serve, Limit and Rotate (HBBF Chart Foods to Avoid_ENG)


LDA’s Healthy Children Project Actions on Safer Baby and Toddler Food

– Pushing manufacturers and retailers to use best practices to lower heavy metals in food.

– Pushing the Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action to set health protective limits on heavy metals in baby and toddler food (not wait till 2024) which included this May 2021 Partner Letter to FDA on Baby Food Safety that LDA of America and 21 state affiliates signed-on to.

– May 2021 virtual lobby day to ask Congress members to co-sponsor federal bill. Also signed on to this Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks) Letter to Congressional Members on the Baby Food Safety Act 2021.

– Educating public about how to protect young children including this sharing this fact sheet – 5 BabyFoods FactSheet English 5 (Spanish version)

– Attended FDA Closer to Zero virtual meeting and gave oral comments November 2021.

Check out these news stories:

2022 Report on Homemade Versus Store-bought Baby Food 

Consumer Affairs article on LDA and partners petitioning the FDA (2021)

CNN story of original testing by Healthy Babies Bright Futures report with LDA (2019)

Picture of Tracy Gregoire

Tracy Gregoire

Tracy Gregoire is the Healthy Children Project Director for the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and is a long-time advocate for children’s health.

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