Pesticides in Baby Food
Saturday, July 1, 1995

Pesticides in Baby Food

To determine the extent of pesticide contamination of baby food, we tested eight foods (applesauce, garden vegetables or pea and carrot blend, green beans, peaches, pears, plums, squash and sweet potatoes) made by the three major baby food producers that account for 96 percent of all baby food sales -- Gerber, Heinz, and Beech-Nut. All samples were purchased at retail from grocery stores in three major metropolitan areas; Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. They were tested for pesticides using the Food and Drug Administration's standard pesticide analytical methods.

Sixteen pesticides were detected in the 8 baby foods tested, including three probable human carcinogens, five possible human carcinogens, eight neurotoxins, five pesticides that disrupt the normal functioning of the hormone system, and five pesticides that are categorized as oral toxicity category one, the most toxic designation.

Infants and children are not little adults.

They react differently than adults to many drugs and toxic substances, and in most cases they suffer more serious health damage as a result. This is why parents and doctors do not give children adult doses of drugs.

The EPA, in contrast, allows infants and children to eat adult approved doses of pesticides that have not been evaluated in terms of their safety for infants and young children.

A five year study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1993 that government standards for pesticides in food do not specifically account for the special vulnerability of infants. They do not account for the additive or potentially greater than additive toxicity of pesticide combinations that occur in single food servings. They do not account for the fact that infants and children eat and drink more relative to their size than adults. And they do not account for the additive effects of pesticide exposure from sources such as contaminated tap water used to reconstitute infant formula or juice, or home and garden use of pesticides.

Pesticides are commonly found in baby food consumed by infants in the first year of life. The levels detected are typically well below federal standards, but federal pesticide standards do not specifically incorporate any special protections for infants or young children. The toxicological significance of these residues is not known, but is cause for concern.

Fruits contained more pesticides and at higher levels than vegetables. Five different pesticides were found in pears, four in applesauce, and three in peaches, plums, and green beans.

Iprodione (Rovral), classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen, was found more often and at higher levels than any other pesticide detected, even though it was found only in peaches and plums.

Multiple pesticides were found in all fruits and two of the vegetables tested. Two pesticides were found in one third of the peach and applesauce samples. Forty four percent of green bean samples contained two or more pesticides and one green bean sample had three pesticides.

In contrast, mixed garden vegetables or the pea/carrot combination had no detectable pesticides at all, while sweet potatoes contained one pesticide, which was found in six of nine samples. All of these results were quite similar to those reported by FDA for the years 1985 through 1991.

Recommendations

Every respected, objective review of pesticide safety standards has concluded that infants and children need more protection, not less protection from pesticides in food and water (NRC 1993, WHO 1986, McConnell 1992). While baby food appears to have lower levels of pesticides in it than fresh fruits and vegetables, it still contains residues of pesticides at levels that have not been shown to be safe for infants.

The 104th Congress is moving quickly to weaken health standards for pesticides in food, and to repeal longstanding pesticide safety standards, in particular the Delaney clause, which bans cancer causing pesticides that concentrate in processed food. This rollback of federal protections will allow more carcinogens and other pesticides in processed foods and the raw foods that they are made from. The levels of pesticides that are present in baby food will likely increase if current protections are repealed.

Rather than rolling back fundamental health standards for infants and children, Congress should:

  • Phase out pesticides classified as probable human carcinogens as well as other highly hazardous pesticides that damage or otherwise interfere with the endocrine, reproductive, nervous or immune system.
  • Enact tough standards to protect infants, young children and other vulnerable populations from the hazards of multiple pesticides in food, water, and the environment.
  • Provide consumers with an unencumbered right to know which pesticides have been applied to the food they buy.
  • Create real rewards for farmers and the food industry to reduce the use of pesticides.

Foreword

The average baby eats hundreds of those little jars of baby food in his or her first year of life. Guess how many pesticides they eat in that yummy mush?

Not enough, apparently, to suit many members of Congress and the pesticide and food companies that back them.

But laboratory tests that we commissioned found sixteen pesticides in just 8 brand-name baby foods made by the three companies that dominate the market. We found pesticides in half the samples we took, and in 7 of the 8 foods.

These are pesticides designed to kill bugs or fungus. Pesticides that cause cancer, mutations, nervous system disorders, or hormonal disruptions in laboratory studies.

And like all pesticides, the ones we found have never been tested for safety in the way that babies are exposed to them. Even so, the levels of pesticides we found in baby food are actually allowed by the Federal government.

Our tests show that infants are eating mixtures of many different pesticides in baby foods. Some babies get another dose of pesticides from drinking water, or from bug sprays and weed killers used around the home. The toxic load adds up. And growing infants are far more sensitive than adults.

That's why a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences reported in 1993 that current pesticide standards are out of date. They allow too much pesticide in food, too little protection for infants. That's not good enough for anyone's baby.

Yet, unbelievably, Congress is responding to special interest pleadings to dramatically weaken pesticide standards. Several bills moving through Congress would allow many more--and more toxic--pesticides in all foods, including baby food. A rider to EPA's appropriations bill will actually prohibit EPA from removing a number of carcinogenic pesticides from the market.

That's good news for pesticide companies. But bad news for the rest of us--straight from the mouths of babes.

Kenneth A. Cook
President
Environmental Working Group

Introduction

Current pesticide safety standards are based on a one-size-fits-all theory of regulation. They are designed to protect an average person from an average pesticide in a mythical average diet. Infants and young children, however, are anything but average. They have boom and bust behavior and dietary patterns and rapidly changing bodies that make them more vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides, according to a five year review of pesticide safety standards by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded in 1993. This same committee found that the allowable levels of pesticides in food do not adequately protect infants and children.

The EPA wholeheartedly embraced these findings, but has done nothing to actually reduce exposure to pesticides faced by the very young. In fact, since the watershed NAS report was issued, not a single food tolerance for a pesticide has been set or modified to specifically protect infants and children from pesticides. Meanwhile, as this report shows, pesticides are common in major baby food products.

Worse yet, the 104th Congress is moving aggressively to make already weak health standards for pesticides in food even weaker, and to repeal several longstanding pesticide safety standards, in particular the Delaney clause, which bans cancer causing pesticides that concentrate in processed food. This rollback of federal protections will allow more carcinogens and other pesticides in processed foods, and the raw foods that they are made from. Of particular concern are the pesticides that are currently in baby food, and the fact that levels of these pesticides are almost certain to increase if current protections are repealed.

As health standards are rolled back, one option for consumer protection is the right to know what contaminants are in the food they buy. This report, Pesticides in Baby Food, presents the results of 72 tests of baby food made by the three largest baby food producers who account for 96 percent of national baby food sales. The ubiquity of pesticides in these staple baby food products demonstrates the utility and appropriateness of a consumers right to know, particularly in the absence of strong public health protections for infants and children.

Chapter 1 presents a brief summary of the risks infants face from pesticides in food. Chapter 2 describes our sampling and testing protocols. Chapter 3 presents the results, and Chapter 4 contains our conclusions and recommendations.

Chapter 1: Infant Risks from Pesticides

Any parent knows that infants and children are generally more vulnerable to toxic substances. That is why parents do not give adult doses of drugs to their children. The EPA, in contrast, allows infants and children to eat adult approved doses of pesticides that have not been evaluated in terms of their safety for infants and young children.

Infants and children react differently than adults to many drugs and toxic substances. In many cases they suffer far more serious damage as a result. Aspirin can cause Reyes syndrome (a condition that kills 80 percent of its victims) in children and teenagers, but it does not cause this condition in adults. Lead causes permanent loss of mental capacity when infants and children are exposed at levels of little consequence to adults.

Phenobarbital, a sedative in adults, produces hyperactivity in most children. Ritalin, a sedative in children, produces hyperactivity in most adults. Infants under six months of age suffer methemo-globanemia, or blue baby syndrome, from nitrate exposure at levels that are safe for older children and adults. Radiation treatment for brain cancer in children under four can cause major cognitive problems later in life, but causes almost no effect if performed after age eight. There are many other examples.

In spite of this evidence, the EPA evaluates the safety of most pesticides using protocols that require testing only sexually mature animals. These tests provide little information relevant to infant or fetal exposure to pesticides. For example, unlike human exposure, which begins in the womb and continues through infancy to adulthood, EPA required cancer studies expose only sexually mature animals to a pesticide. Conversely, the EPA requires that reproductive studies expose animals to pesticides in the womb, but then do not examine the impact of this exposure on the reproductive health of successive generations.

A faster and different metabolism, and rapid growth and development are the basic reasons for an infant's increased vulnerability to any toxic substance, including pesticides. After birth the most pronounced period of growth is the first year of life, during which the human infant triples in weight. Different organs grow at different rates as the infant matures, creating a roulette of infant organ susceptibility.

The brain of a newborn child grows rapidly and is particularly sensitive to toxic substances. At birth, the human brain weighs about one third an adult brain, compared to the infant body which weighs about 4 percent of an adult body. This relatively large brain grows rapidly in the newborn child, achieving 50 percent of its adult weight by 6 months of age, with 75 percent of all brain cells present by age 2 (Snodgrass 1992, NRC 1993). In contrast, 50 percent of adult weight in the liver, heart and kidneys is not reached until age nine (NRC 1993).

Cancer

In general, but not always, rapid development will increase the risk of cancer from toxic exposure. While the issue is complex, the NAS Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children concluded that in the absence of other factors, "direct carcinogens are more potent in rapidly growing animals" (NRC 1993 pp. 29), adding that, "Infants and children are subject to rapid tissue growth and development, which will have an impact on cancer risk" (NRC 1993 pp. 22). The incidence of childhood brain cancer and childhood leukemia has increased 33 percent since 1973 (Reis et al. 1993). Cancer now kills more children under age 14 than any other disease.

A major study with the carcinogens N-nitrosodiethylamine and N-nitrosodimethylamine found a seven fold increase in cancer rates when animals were exposed starting in infancy, as compared to exposure only during adulthood (Peto 1992). A 1992 review of data on 22 chemicals from separate studies that began dosing animals in utero, in infancy and in adulthood concluded that exposure early in life increases the rate of cancer in the exposed population and that these cancers generally occur earlier in life (McConnell 1992).

But cancer is only one cause for concern. Several organ systems, including the nervous, immune, reproductive, and endocrine systems, which are not fully developed at birth may "demonstrate particular sensitivity during the postnatal period" (NRC 1993 pp. 43).

Nervous System Toxicity

The nervous system of the infant and young child is extraordinarily sensitive to some toxins. Infants and toddlers, for example, are far more sensitive than adults to the immediate and long term effects of lead. Many pesticides found in baby food are toxic to the nervous system, but the EPA has not evaluated their ultimate toxic effect on children.

The most common neurotoxic pesticides are the organophosphate and carbamate insecticides which inhibit the normal function of the nervous system enzyme, acetylcholinesterase. According to the NAS, "... emerging data suggest that neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level chronic exposure to some organophosphate and carbamate pesticides" (NRC 1993 pp. 64). Current safety standards, the Academy observed, are no guarantee of protection for children:

"The data strongly suggest that exposure to neurotoxic compounds at levels believed to be safe for adults could result in permanent loss of brain function if it occurred during the prenatal or early childhood period of brain development. This information is particularly relevant to dietary exposure to pesticides, since policies that established safe levels of exposure to neurotoxic pesticides for adults could not be assumed to adequately protect a child less than four years of age," (NRC 1993 p. 61).

Reproductive and Hormonal Disorders

The reproductive system is also vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides. Evidence is mounting that exposure to chemical pollutants and pesticides in the womb or in early childhood can interfere with normal sexual development and may be contributing to declining male reproductive health in the industrialized world (Carlson et al. 1992, Colborn et al. 1993, Gray et al. 1992, Hileman 1994, Lancet 1995, Reir et al. 1993, Soto et al. 1994, Topari et al. 1995, Sharpe et al. 1993).

Every day, people are exposed to chemicals that mimic the female hormone estrogen and or otherwise may disrupt the human hormone system. The severity and consequences of this exposure are not known nor are they being systematically studied. We do know, however, that several currently used pesticides commonly found in food mimic the female hormone estrogen, and others clearly interfere with normal hormone function. In addition, recent work shows that the effect of estrogenic pesticides is additive, and that exposure to estrogenic mixtures at low levels can cause an effect produced by a single chemical, only when administered at a higher dose (Soto 1994).

A mother's lifelong exposure to estrogens is the best indicator of exposure and risk to the child, particularly for estrogens that accumulate in the body. For chemicals that do not accumulate in the mother, however, childhood exposure appears to be the key. According to a recent editorial in the British medical journal, The Lancet, "The various facets of declining male reproductive health seem to have a common origin in childhood, and defects that may be induced in the current birth cohort by xeno-oestrogens [estrogens from sources other than the human body] or other compounds may not become apparent for a further 20 - 40 years," (Lancet 1995).

Regulatory Failure

Infants and children suffer disproportionately from additional flaws in the current regulatory process.

  • Pesticides are regulated in isolation as though no one is exposed to more than one pesticide at a time.
  • Additive effects of pesticides consumed in combination are not considered. Multiple routes of exposure (food, water, household use) are ignored.
  • Pesticides continue to be allowed in food based on toxicity data that is often incomplete or out of date.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, infants are unlikely to be more than 10 times more sensitive to any single pesticide than an adult. There are 275 pesticides allowed on food, however, and 102 of these were detected by the FDA from 1990 through 1992, on just twenty two different fruits and vegetables (Wiles et al. 1993).

Notably, the Academy committee concluded that it is the additive effect of simultaneous exposure to pesticides causing the same toxic effect that presents the real world risk to infants and children. There are no standards to protect infants, children or anyone else from multiple pesticides in food (or from other sources). The EPA has just begun to consider the additive effects of certain groups of pesticides. The special additive adverse effects that these combined exposures may have on the young, however, are not being studied.

Chapter 2: Sampling Plan and Testing Methods

Starting at about four months of age, baby food constitutes an important food source for many infants. Nine out of every ten babies eat at least some commercial baby food, and according to Gerber, the average American baby eats 600 jars of baby food (including baby food juices) in his or her first year.

Ninety-six percent of all baby food sold in the United States is made by Gerber, Heinz and Beech-Nut. Respectively, these companies control 69, 14, and 13 percent of the 1.78 billion jar annual market (Nielson)

All of the big three baby food makers sell products in three stages. Stage-one for children up to six months, stage-two for children from six to nine months, and stage-three for children nine months and older. Gerber is less dominant in the first stage market, controlling 56 percent, compared with 32 percent for Beech-Nut and 10 percent for Heinz.

Our sampling protocol was aimed at the stage-one fruits and vegetables in order to determine the exposure to pesticides that occurs at the earliest, and typically most vulnerable stages of infant development. The only exception was plum products which are marketed exclusively at the second level of baby foods, for infants older than six months.

Unlike second and third stage products, stage-one products are usually composed of single fruits and vegetables so that parents can identify any food allergies their children may have. Our sampling strategy was limited by testing costs. Within these constraints we tested fruits and vegetables that comprise a significant percentage of baby food sold and were likely to contain pesticide residues.

Sampling Protocol

We tested eight foods (applesauce, garden vegetables or pea and carrot blend, green beans, peaches, pears, plums, squash and sweet potatoes) sampled from three major metropolitan areas; Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. A total of 24 samples (eight foods in three cities) were obtained from each company for a total of 72 samples in all. All samples were purchased at retail from grocery stores as they would normally be purchased by consumers.

One or more of the nine fruit and vegetables included in this study is an ingredient in over 200 different baby food products manufactured by the big three, 59% of the products sold. Sales of products containing these 9 fruits and vegetables amounted to over 900 million of the 1.3 billion jars (over 69%) of baby food sold from February 1994 to February 1995, excluding juice (Nielson 1995).

Samples were made of a composite of 24, 2.5 ounce jars, or 12, 4.5 ounce jars identified with the same production code. This produced three distinct and uniform samples from three major metropolitan areas, for each food tested.

Fruits

We sampled four fruit products; applesauce, peaches, pears and plums. The first three of these food constitute 66% of the fruit baby food sold from the beginners foods category (Table 1). Plums, the fourth fruit sampled, is the next most popular fruit sold as a single fruit product (not blended with other fruits) by all three companies. Pure plum products, however, are all marketed exclusively at the second level of baby foods, for infants older than six months.

Strained bananas, the most popular beginners baby food, was excluded from our testing because data from the FDA and other independent sources indicate relatively low pesticide residues.

At least one of the four fruits we sampled (applesauce, peaches, pears, and plums) is an ingredient in over 95 different products manufactured by the three major baby food companies. Apples are the most widely used product in baby foods, followed by bananas and peaches.

Table 1: The most commonly eaten beginner-level* baby foods.

Fruits Jars sold (Millions) Vegetables Jars sold (Millions)
1. Bananas 37.7 1. Sweet Potatoes 35.0
2. Applesauce 35.8 2. Carrots 30.2
3. Pears 28.7 3. Squash 25.3
4. Peaches 23.5 4. Green Beans 20.3
5. Plums** 18.1 5. Peas 20.4

*for children under six months of age
**2nd stage food (about 6 to 9 months)
Units sold are rounded to the nearest 100,000.

Source: Nielson sales numbers for 1994.

Vegetables

Sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, peas and carrots are the only vegetable baby foods sold by the big three in the beginners foods category. These five vegetables are ingredients in 113 products sold in all stages of baby food marketed by these three companies.

We sampled sweet potatoes, squash and green beans from each of the producers' beginners foods category. In order to stay within budget and include peas and carrots in our sampling plan we chose garden vegetables which contains peas, water, carrots and spinach, from one company, and carrots and peas from another. Because the third company does not make a product with both of these ingredients, we combined their beginners and older pea and carrot products in equal portions to create our test sample.

Testing Methods

All samples were tested for pesticides using standard procedures employed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and described in the FDA Pesticide Analytical Manual. The Luke extraction method was used for all polar and non-polar pesticides detectable by either Gas chromatography (GC) or High Performance Liquid Chromotography (HPLC). All pesticides detected by GC were confirmed using dual columns and dual detectors. All pesticides detected by HPLC were confirmed with another method.

For pesticides detectable only by single residue methods such as ethylene thio urea (ETU) or benomyl, procedures specified in the Food and Drug Administration's Pesticide Analytical Manual (PAM) were used.

The limits of quantification for pesticide in this study were, in parts per billion:

Organophosphate and organochlorine insecticides 2 ppb
Organonitrogen compounds 5 ppb
Carbamate compounds 5 ppb
Thiabendazole 5 ppb
ETU 2 ppb

For a more detailed description of the testing methods used, see Appendix 1.

Chapter 3: Pesticides in Baby Food

The Chemicals

Sixteen different pesticides were found in the eight baby food products tested (Table 2). More than half (53 percent) of all samples contained detectable levels of pesticides, 18 percent of samples had two or more pesticides in them, and one sample contained three different pesticides (Table 3).

Iprodione (Rovral), classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA, was found more often than any other pesticide (eight detections), followed by thiabendazole with seven detections, botran with six, and permethrin with five.

Iprodione on plums and peaches were the highest levels of any pesticide found on any single crop at 46 and 29 ppb respectively. Thiabendazole in applesauce, dimethoate in pears, and permethrin in peaches rounded out the top five at 19, 18 and 16 ppb (Table 4).

Of the sixteen pesticides detected, three are probable human carcinogens, five are possible human carcinogens, eight are neurotoxins, five are endocrine disruptors, and five are categorized as oral toxicity 1 chemicals, the most toxic designation (Table 5).

The Crops

Peaches and pears had the highest percent of detections (78 percent) (Table 6). One third of peach samples had 2 pesticides on them, whereas twenty-two percent of pears contained two pesticides. Three different pesticides were detected on peaches, and five different pesticides were detected on pears.

Applesauce, plums, and sweet potatoes had the next highest rates, with two thirds testing positive for pesticides. One third of applesauce samples had 2 pesticides in them, 11 percent of plums had two, and no samples of sweet potatoes had two pesticides in them. In fact, all the sweet potatoes contained the same pesticide, botran, a post harvest sprout inhibitor that could easily be replaced with refrigeration. Four different pesticides were found in applesauce, and three were found on plums.

Forty-four percent of green bean samples were positive for pesticides, all with at least two different compounds detected. One green bean sample contained 3 different pesticides.

No directly applied pesticides were found in squash, although 22 percent of samples contained DDE (the breakdown product of DDT), or dieldrin, a potent, persistent, cancer-causing pesticide banned for 20 years but commonly absorbed by crops from polluted soil. Garden vegetables and the composite pea/carrot mixture substituted for them, contained no detectable pesticide residues.

Pears had the greatest variety of pesticides in them (five), followed by applesauce with four, and peaches, plums, and green beans with three. Plums had the highest total pesticide load at 53 ppb, followed by peaches at 46 ppb, and pears at 41 ppb (Table 6).

FDA Baby Food Testing

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests baby foods for pesticides as a part of its Total Diet Study (TDS). Under the TDS, FDA purchases 234 foods four times per year, each time from one geographic location, and tests them for pesticides and other contaminants.

A 1993 paper published in the Journal of AOAC International by FDA scientists, reported dozens of pesticides in baby food purchased in grocery stores and tested in the TDS during the years 1985 through 1991 (Yess et al. 1993). The results support the finding of our study.

The FDA found 22 pesticides over the seven year period in the eight fruits and vegetables analyzed in this report (Table 7). This is eight more pesticides than found in this study, probably due to the larger sample size and longer duration of time representated by the FDA data.

In the 27 samples tested during the seven year period that most closely match our sampled foods, the FDA found 12 pesticides in applesauce, seven in peaches, 11 in pears, and seven in green beans, peaches and plums/prunes . The pesticides found most often were phosalone (41 detections), dicloran (32) endosulfan (31), chlorpyriphos (29), and parathion (28). The pesticide found at the highest level was propargite, a probable human carcinogen, found at the highest levels of any pesticide in applesauce, peaches, and plums. Phosalone was found at the highest levels in pears.

In vegetables, the FDA results were even more similar to ours. Dicloran in sweet potatoes, and methamidophos and acephate in green beans dominated the residue profile, with dicloran in sweet potatoes the highest reported residues in the vegetables we tested. The FDA found 5 pesticides in mixed/garden vegetables, one pesticide in peas, and four pesticides in carrots. This is more pesticides than we found in similar foods -- we found no detectable residues in garden vegetables or a pea/carrot mix. But like our results, the agency found fewer pesticides in these foods than in other common fruit and vegetable baby foods products.

Notably, DDT was found by the FDA at least once in all the fruits and vegetable samples (except sweet potatoes). As expected, DDT detections were more prevalent and at higher levels in the meat dinners tested by FDA. For example, DDT was found in 26 out of 27 baby beef dinners, and 19 out of 27 chicken or turkey dinners and 16 out of 27 pork dinner samples over the seven year period.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Conclusions

Pesticides are routinely found in baby food consumed by infants in their first six months of life. The levels are typically well below federal standards, but these standards are too high because they do not specifically incorporate any special protections for infants or young children. The toxicological significance of these residues is not known, but is cause for concern.

In our study, 16 pesticides were detected in the 8 foods tested. Fruits contained more pesticides and at higher levels, than vegetables. For example, iprodione, a probable human carcinogen found only in peaches and plums, was found in more samples and at higher average levels than any other pesticide.

Multiple pesticides were common in all fruits and two of the vegetables tested, although no single sample had more than two detectable pesticides in it. Five different pesticides were found in pears, four in applesauce, and three in peaches, plums, and green beans.

In contrast, mixed garden vegetables or the pea/carrot combination had no detectable pesticides at all, while sweet potatoes contained just one pesticide, which was found in six of nine samples. All of these results were quite similar to those reported by FDA for the years 1985 through 1991.

Specific foods generally were contaminated with the same pesticides. On the whole, no single company's products were significantly less contaminated than any other's.

Current standards for pesticides in food do not specifically account for the special vulnerability of infants. They do not account for the additive or potentially greater than additive toxicity of pesticide combinations in baby food. And they do not account for the additive effects of pesticide exposure from sources such as contaminated tap water used to reconstitute infant formula or juice, or home and garden use of pesticides.

Congress is proceeding aggressively with legislation that will weaken federal health standards for pesticide residues in food, including wholesale repeal of the Delaney clause of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, which provides special protections for consumers of processed foods, such as baby food, by prohibiting any amount of cancer causing pesticides that concentrate during food processing.

If the Congress is successful in weakening current pesticide standards it is likely that more pesticides will find their way into baby food. Certainly, growers will have access to pesticides that would not meet current health and safety standards, and baby food producers will need to be more vigilant in policing raw crops that they use to produce baby food.

Our data show that the United States needs pesticide safety standards for infants and young children because infants and young children are exposed to pesticides as soon as they begin to eat food. Some of the pesticides found by this study and in separate studies by the FDA are toxic to delicate organ systems, such as the nervous and endocrine system. Others are potent carcinogens that may initiate the process of tumor formation earlier in life than accounted for by the EPA when it sets limits for pesticides in food. While these residues do not pose a immediate health risk, they contribute to an overall exposure to pesticides that must be included in pesticides standard setting. Currently it is not.

Recommendations

Every respected, objective review of pesticide safety standards has concluded that infants and children need more protection, not less protection from pesticides in food and water (NRC 1993, WHO 1986, Guzelian, et al. 1992). While baby food appears to have lower levels of pesticides in it than fresh fruits and vegetables, it still contains residues of pesticides at levels that have not been shown to be safe for infants.

Rather than rolling back fundamental health standards for infants and children, Congress should:

  • Phase out pesticides classified as probable human carcinogens as well as other highly hazardous pesticides that damage or otherwise interfere with the endocrine, reproductive, nervous or immune system.
  • Enact tough standards to protect infants, young children and other vulnerable populations from the hazards of multiple pesticides in food, water, and the environment.
  • Provide consumers with an unencumbered right to know which pesticides have been applied to the food they buy.
  • Create real rewards for farmers and food companies for reducing the use of pesticides overall

Appendix 1: Sample Extraction Methods

Multi-Residue Screens

Luke Extraction as per PAM1 (Pesticide Analytical Manual Vol.1)

Modifications:

  • 160 ml of filtrate instead of 80 ml. Final volume 10 ml.
  • ECD Clean up: 2ml acetone extract and evaporated with N2 to dryness.

Dissolve in Petroleum ether. Transfer pet ether to pre-conditioned Supelco 1gm Florisil column, and elute with 10ml 10% acetone in pet ether. Evaporate to 5ml final volume.

N-Methyl Carbamate (HPLC)

Luke Extraction as per PAM1, then filter 1 ml acetone extract through 0.45 filter into autosampler vial.

Organosulfur Pesticides (Propargite)

Luke Extraction as per PAM1

Thiabendazole

Luke Extraction as per PAM1, then use 5ul of filtered acetone extract.

Eluent 1:

  • 500ml methanol
  • 450ml Water
  • 50ml Acetic Acid
  • 4gm Sodium Acetate Trihydrate

Eluent 2: 70:30 IP Solution:methanol (confirmations)

Benomyl

Luke extraction as per PAM1, then 2 ml of acetone extract was evaporated to dryness with N2, dissolved in 1 ml of methanol and 1 ml of IP solution is added. The sample is set overnight to convert any residual benomyl to MBC.

  • Eluent: 70:30 IP solution: methanol
  • IP solution:1 gm Sodium Decanesulfonic acid, 7ml H3PO4, 10ml triethylamine to 1 l water.

ETU

100 grams of product was extracted in methanol-aqueous sodium acetate solution, filtered with diatomaceous earth and eluted in methylene chloride as per Krause, JOAC 72: 6,1989.

  • Eluent: 0.025 M Phosphoric Acid

Appendix 2: Sample Analysis

Organochlorine Pesticides

a. Chlorinated with Hall detector on HP 5890 GC.

  • Column: DB17 30m x 0.53mm ID, OI 4420 ELCD Detector
  • Temperatures: 80C (1min) to 180C @30C/min (0 Hold) to 300C @3.6C/min 7 min hold.
  • Inj. Temp: 230C
  • Inj. Vol: 3ul

b. Chlorinated with ECD detector on HP 5890 GC.

  • Columns: DB1701 30m x 0.25mm ID, ECD detector

    DB5 30 x 0.25mm ID, ECD detector

  • Temperatures: 80C(1min) to 180 @30C/min (0 hold) to 300C @3.6C/min 7 min hold.
  • Inj. Temp: 230C
  • Inj. Vol: 1ul

Organophosphate Pesticides

a. Initial Flame Photometric Detector (FPD) on HP 5890 GC

  • Column: DB17 30m x 0.53mm ID, HP FPD P filter.
  • Temperatures: 80C(1min) to 180 @30C/min (0 hold) to 300C @3.6C/min 7 min hold.
  • Inj. Temp: 230C
  • Inj. Vol: 3ul

b. Confirmations with FPD on HP 5890 GC.

  • Column: RTX225 15m x 0.53mm ID @200C isothermal.
  • Inj. Temp: 230C
  • Inj. Vol: 3ul

Organonitrogen Pesticides

a. Initial Nitrogen Phosphorous Detector (NPD) on HP 5890 GC.

  • Column: DB1701 30m x 0.25mm ID, NPD detector

    DB5 30m x 0.25mm ID, NPD detector

  • Temperatures: 80C (1min) to 180C @30C/min (0 hold) to 300C @3.6C/min 7 min hold.
  • Inj. Temp: 230C
  • Inj. Vol: 3ul

b. Confirmations, none needed

Carbamate Pesticides

All runs on Waters, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) with post column derivitization. Injections, 10 ul.

Organosulfur (Propargite) Pesticides

All analysis on HP 5970 Selective Ion GC Mass Spectrometer.

  • Column: DB5 Mass Spec 30m x 0.25mm ID
  • Ions Monitored: 135,350 & 351
  • Temperatures: 60C to 300C
  • Inj. Vol: 1ul

Thiabendazole

a. Initial analysis on Waters HPLC

  • Column: Zorbax Phenyl column 25cm x 4.6mm ID 5um particles
  • Flow rate: 1ml/min
  • Detector: 305nm ex 355nm em flouresence detector
  • Inj Vol: 5ul

b. Confirmations

  • Column: Supelco LC18DB 7.5cm x 4.6mm ID 3um particles
  • Flow rate: 1.5ml/min
  • Detector: 305nm ex 355nm em flouresence detector
  • Inj. Vol: 5ul

Benomyl

a. Initial Analysis on Waters HPLC

  • Column: Supelco LC18DB 7.5cm x 4.6mm ID 3 um particles
  • Flow rate: 1.5 ml/min
  • Detector: 280nm ex 305nm em flouresence detector
  • Inj. Vol: 50ul

ETU

a. Initial Analysis on Bio Analytical Systems, BAS LC 4B with Electro Chemical Detector

  • Column: Shandon Hypercarb 10cm X 4.6 mm ID
  • Flow Rate: 0.5 ml/min
  • Detector: BAS LC 4B
  • Inj. Vol: 50ul
  • Volts: 0.35

References: 

Carlson, Elisabeth, Aleksander Giwecman, Niels Keiding, and Neils E. Skakkebaek. 1992. Evidence For Decreasing Quality of Semen During Past 50 Years. British Medical Journal. 305:609-613.

Colburn, Theo, Frederick S. vom Saal, and Ana M. Soto. 1993. Developmental Effects of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Wildlife and Humans. Environmental Health Perspectives. 101(5):378-384.

Environmental Protection Agency. 1994. List of Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential. Memorandum to Health Division by Reto Engler, PhD. April 1, 1994.

Farm Chemicals Handbook. 1994. Willoughby, Ohio. Meister Publishing.

Gray, Jr. and Leon Earl. 1992. Chemical-Induced Alterations of Sexual Differentiation: A Review of Effects in Humans and Rodents. Pp. 203-230 in Advances in Modern Environmental Toxicology, Mehlman, M.A., ed. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Scientific Publishing Co., Inc.

Guzelian, Philip S., Carol J. Henry, Stephen S. Olin. 1992. Similarities and Differences Between Children and Adults: Implications for Risk Assessment. ILSI Press: Washington, D.C.

Hileman, Bette. 1994. Environmental Estrogens Linked to Reproductive Abnormalities, Cancer. Chemical and Engineering News. January 31, 1994. pp. 19-23.

McConnell, Ernest. 1992. Comparative Responses in Carcinogenesis Bioassays as a Function of Age at First Exposure. Similarities & Differences Between Children and Adults. ILSI Press: Washington, D.C. p. 66-78.

National Research Council. 1993. Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. National Academy Press: Washington, D.C.

Nielson Marketing Statistics. Baby food sales figures. February 18, 1994 through February 18, 1995. Obtained from Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Peto, R. et al. 1991. Effects on 4080 Rats of Chronic Ingestion of N-Nitrosodiethylamine or N-Nitroso-dimethylamine: A Detailed Dose-response Study. Cancer Research. 51:6415-6451. 1991.

Rier, Sherry E., Dan C. Martin, Robert E. Bowman, W. Paul Dmowski, and Jeanne L. Becker. 1993. Endometriosis in Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Following Chronic Exposure to 2,3,7,8-Tetrachloro-dibenzo-p-dioxin. Society of Toxicology. Fundamental and Applied Toxicology 102(3).

Ries, L., et al. 1993. Cancer in Children, SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1973-1990. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Washington, D.C.

Sharpe, Richard M. and Niels E. Skakkebaek. 1993. Are oestrogens involved in falling sperm counts and disorders of the male reproductive tract? The Lancet. 341:1392-95

Snodgrass, Wayne R. 1992. Physiological and Biochemical Difference Between Children and Adults As Determinants of Toxic Response to Environmental Pollutants. pp. 35-42 in Similarities and Differences between Children and Adults: Implications for Risk Assessment, Philip S. Guzelian, Carol J. Henry, Stephen S. Olin, eds. Washington, DC: International Life Sciences Institute.

Soto, Ana M., Kerrie L. Chung, and Carlow Sonnenschein. 1994. The Pesticides Endosulfan, Toxaphene and Dieldrin Have Estrogenic Effects on Human Estrogen-Sensitive Cells. Environmental Health Perspectives.

The Lancet. 1995. editorial. Male reproductive health and environmental oestrogens. 345 (8955): 933-935.

Toppari. Jorma et. al. 1995. Male Reproductive Health and Environmental Chemicals with Estrogenic Effects. Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Copenhagen, Denmark. April 1995.

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. 1991. Protection of the Environment. Labeling requirements for pesticides and devices. 40

Key Issues: