The latest baby food scare

Last night there were calls for urgent new safety rules to control the presence of the poisons in foods intended for young children.

Researchers found feeding infants twice a day on the shop-bought baby foods such as rice porridge can increase their exposure to arsenic by up to fifty times when compared to breast feeding alone.

The findings come as officials at the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission are conducting an urgent review to establish new limits for the long term exposure of these contaminants in food.

The products tested by the researchers were made by major baby food manufacturers including Organix, Hipp, Nestle and Holle – some of which are available in British supermarkets.

50 times! Wow!

Among the baby foods found to contain elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in the tests by the researchers was Organix First Organic Whole Grain Baby Rice, which they found contained two micrograms of arsenic per portion, along with 0.03 micrograms of cadmium and 0.09 micrograms of lead. This product is sold by Boots in the UK.

Ahhh….a microgram or two. 2 ppm (parts per million). Or the cadmium, 30 ppb (parts per billion).

These metals certainly can be dangerous, but as we know it\’s the dose that is the poison. Whether these metals are dangerous at these levels is something a little unknown. Certainly, they\’re below the currently accepted limits for what we think does cause damage. In fact, it\’s only in the last couple of decades that we\’ve been able to test to these levels at less than exorbitant cost.

Note that no one is saying that there\’s anything dodgy going on either. These are simply the trace amounts picked up as plants grow in various soils. This itself can indeed be a problem: there are areas around Chilcompton in Somerset where you\’re advised not to eat home grown cabbages because of the lead content picked up from the soils.

Me, given my suspicious little mind, think that this is where the root of the story is:

She added that breast feeding until babies were six months old appeared to be the best way to keep infants\’ exposure to these toxic contaminants as low as possible as they seemed to be filtered out by the mothers\’ body.

Yup, the female body is prettyy good at acting as a filter for such metals. Levels will be lower in milk than in the mother\’s body for example. But I can\’t help feeling that this is more of another shot in the ongoing \”breast is best\” wars than actually truly independent research into the toxicity of baby foods.

I mean, seriously, 30 ppb Cd? I\’d be surprised if your average potato wasn\’t at around that level.

5 comments on “The latest baby food scare

  1. Yes, it’s the titfeeders again. I made the same point over in the Telegraph comments, which are full of the usual hyperventilating “toxicity” obsessive-compulsives. It’s the bunch that are trying to get every baby stuck on the boob for two years. That lot. They have WHO backing. Quelle surprise.

    Also, another demonstration of the power of the current Greenie ploy of marking off whole areas of the Periodic Table as verboten (the king of the evil elements being of course Carbon itself). It’s quite a clever strategy really. Since trace levels of these verboten elements are everywhere… well, we’re never safe, are we?

  2. I think the reference to the mother being the filter is crucial here; there is definitely a major safety measure in having a low-immunity (talking <28 days especially) infant protected by the mother's immune system.

  3. They also forgot about the dihydrogen monoxide content in baby food. The lethal (LD50) dose of dihydrogen monoxide is 90 ml/kg. Baby food contains 800 ml/kg of dihydrogen monoxide.

    There are 1.9 million dihydrogen monoxide related child deaths per year.

    We need urgent action to ban dihydrogen monoxide NOW.

  4. Potatoes are chock full of poisons anyway – natural pesticides produced by the plant to protect itself. And this sort of thing isn’t unusual in the plant world. It’s an evolutionary thing, plants can’t run away or scratch themselves after all, so they’ve developed other defenses.

    Lots of plant varieties bred for organic farming have turned out have health effects, including, in some cases, contact dermatitis just from handling them. They were breeding for pest resistance. People don’t seem to understand that means the plant is producing the pesticide that the farmer isn’t spraying.

    30ppb of Cd is the least of anyone’s worries.

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