WASHINGTON – New Consumer Reports test results released today have found dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic in three popular brands of infant rice cereals, prompting the Environmental Working Group to again urge the Food and Drug Administration to follow through immediately on its plan to set mandatory limits on heavy metals in baby food.
“These new results further illustrate the need for immediate action to protect children’s health,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “Parents should not have to worry if the food they’re feeding their kids is full of toxic heavy metals, which we know even at low levels can cause serious and often irreversible damage to babies’ brains.”
Last April, the FDA pledged to propose draft limits for some toxic metals but did not say when it would set final limits for some metals or when companies would have to meet these limits.
Under the proposal, draft levels for lead in baby food would be set sometime this year. Draft levels for arsenic would be set sometime before 2024, and draft levels for cadmium and mercury in 2024 or later.
Final levels for lead would be set sometime between now and 2024, and final action levels for arsenic wouldn’t be set until 2024 or later.
EWG also urges Congress to swiftly pass the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021, introduced last year by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.). The bill would set tough interim limits for toxic metals in baby food that manufacturers would have to meet within a year.
“The longer Congress waits to take action, the more children are potentially put at risk,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG legislative attorney. “Congress should quickly require companies to meet interim limits on heavy metals in baby foods.”
EWG recommends for parents look for a variety of baby foods and cereals, including a variety of grains, to help decrease the exposure to potentially elevated levels of arsenic in rice-based products. EWG also urges baby food manufacturers to conduct continuous testing of heavy metals in all their products and make all testing results publicly available.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.