Ask Dr. Nandi: Lead detected in baby food samples

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You think baby food available in the market is good for your child?

A new report found detectable levels of lead in 20 percent of baby food samples, especially in fruit juices and vegetables, CNN reported.

Baby food versions of apple and grape juices, as well as carrots, had more samples with detectable levels of lead than the regular versions, according to the report.

While no food contained an amount of lead that was over the allowed limits, children who ate multiple foods with lead in them are still at risk, Study author Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director at EDF, said.

Children are consuming more lead than is healthy, a new study by an environmental watchdog warns. It affects one's ability to pay attention, and cause problems with the immune system and cardiovascular systems.

The report by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) found that more than one million children consume more lead than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s limit. Lead was most commonly found in fruit juices (89% of grape juice samples and 55% in apple juice samples), sweet potatoes (86% of samples) and teething biscuits (47%).

There's no safe level of lead, according to the EDF, and yet about 500,000 children have elevated blood lead levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even low blood lead levels can harm child development and behavior.

The researchers, though, noted that not all lead in soil is naturally occurring.

The FDA does not identify the brands that were tested or the stores where they were purchased.

FDA has set guidance levels of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for candy and dried fruit and 50 ppb for fruit juices. Baby food is also processed more so there's a possibility that processing could play a role. The allowable level for lead in bottled water is 5 ppb.

That said, the FDA has released a response to the report, noting the agency is "reevaluating the analytical methods it uses for determining when it should take action with respect to measured levels of lead in particular foods, including those consumed by infants and toddlers".

Baby foods contain more lead than regular foods.

Neltner said he's glad the FDA is working on the issue but wants them to "get it done". Parents should also have their children tested for lead, tell them to wash their hands often - especially before eating and sleeping, clean their toys and feed them healthy snacks such as yogurt, cheese slices and whole grain crackers, World Health Organization advises.

Root vegetable-based foods fared the worst, with 65 percent testing positive overall.

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