Heavy metals levels in baby food: a new FDA’s action plan

FDA announced its new plan against baby food heavy metals contamination. It is titled “Closer to Zero”, and it will represent a project aiming to lower levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in baby food by carrying out various actions. It’s claimed to be a cycle of continuous improvement between science evaluation, proposing draft actions, consulting with stakeholders, and finalizing concrete actions. The project is starting with the evaluation of arsenic levels in baby food and drafting action levels for categories of foods consumed by babies and young children in order to reduce lead levels. It is supposed to be a continuation of the FDA’s work against heavy metals in baby food, which brought arsenic concentration in infant rice cereal from 120 ppb in 2012 to 85 ppb in 2018, setting the MRL at 100 ppb, the same level as the EU.   FDA claims that their previous testing shows that children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements at the levels found in foods. Nevertheless, it is still important to lower these levels closer to zero, protecting children’s health. Regulations and guidance from FDA’s arsenic limits are focused on bottled water (MRL 10 ppb), infant rice cereal (MRL 100 ppb) and apple juice (MRL 10 ppb). The project aims to extend these regulations to other children’s foods as well. “Closer to Zero” will involve USDA to perform research on agronomic techniques that may mitigate uptake of toxic elements in agricultural commodities, and NIH and CDC to assist in better understanding impacts of toxic elements on development and the role of nutrition for mitigating those impacts.