Baby Food & Heavy Metals


95 percent baby food tested contains toxic chemicals that harm kid’s brains *

What it means for babies’ health: The chemicals found in baby food – arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury – are neurotoxins that can harm the developing brain, lower IQ, and 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 have higher levels of heavy metals, like rice-based snacks, juice, and sweet potatoes. Here’s what you can do.

Baby Foods with Arsenic and Lead & Safer Choices

1) SNACKS: Puffs and other snacks made with rice flour are high in arsenic. Choose rice-free packaged snacks. Better yet, try these healthy snacks with fewer chemicals recommended by Consumer Reports: apples, applesauce (unsweetened), bananas, barley with diced vegetables, beans, cheese, grapes (cut lengthwise), hard-boiled eggs, peaches, and yogurt.

2) CEREAL: Infant rice cereal is the #1 source of arsenic in infant’s diets. Choose other cereals that are naturally low in arsenic, like oatmeal and multi-grain.

3) TEETHING FOODS: Teething biscuits often contain arsenic, lead, and cadmium. They also lack nutrients and can cause tooth decay. Instead, try frozen banana, a peeled and chilled cucumber, or a clean, cold wet washcloth or spoon. Stay with your baby to watch for any choking.

4) DRINKS: Apple, pear, grape and other fruit juices have lead and arsenic. Tap water and milk are better drinks for thirsty toddlers. Serve whole or pureed fruits (like applesauce) instead of fruit juice, for more healthy fiber and nutrients. Doctors advise avoiding fruit juice during a baby’s first year.

5) FRUITS & VEGGIES: Carrots and sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A & other nutrients, but they are also high in lead and cadmium. Variety is the solution: give your baby these plus other fruits & veggies during the week.

BONUS – WHAT TO DO ABOUT RICE – Rice is high in arsenic and a top exposure source for toddlers. Simple steps can help:

– Cook rice in extra water that you pour off before eating, to cut down arsenic levels by 60 percent, according to FDA studies.
– For the lowest levels, buy basmati rice grown in California, India, and Pakistan. White rice has less arsenic than brown rice.
– Avoid rice from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, or simply “U.S.” It has the highest levels, according to testing by Consumer Reports.
– Eat a variety of grains to help reduce your family’s arsenic exposures. Try amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and polenta(all gluten-free), or bulgur, barley and farro (these contain gluten).

Source: Healthy Babies Bright Future. Learn more at We are a proud partner of HBBF, and co-released this report Oct 2019.’

LDA’s Healthy Children Project actions on safer baby and toddler food:


– Pushing the Food and Drug Adminstration 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:

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)

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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