The Baby Food Council
Created in January 2019 in partnership with Cornell University and the Environmental Defense Fund, the Baby Food Council (“Council”) is a group of infant and toddler food companies, supported by key stakeholders, seeking to reduce heavy metals in the companies’ products to as low as reasonably achievable using best-in-class management practices. All companies that source ingredients, manage the upstream supply chain, and nationally market foods for children six to 24 months of age in the United States are welcome to participate in the Council.
In addition to the founding food companies, Healthy Babies Bright Futures is a member of the Council. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets serve as technical advisors to the effort.
Professor Rui Hai Liu serves as Cornell’s scientific representative on the Council. Further information on Professor Liu’s research interests can be found at https://foodscience.cals.cornell.edu/people/rui-liu/
Analysis of Baby Food Products for Heavy Metals
A best practice to reduce heavy metals in vegetable and fruit purees is to regularly test ingredients and products for low levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead to be able to identify and resolve potential problems. Accordingly, the FDA and food industry regularly test foods for various heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, and lead. These common food contaminants occur naturally or from pollution in the environment. Organic and conventional crops alike absorb them from soil and water. Their presence in baby food raises is a concern because babies are more sensitive to their harmful impacts. There is no known safe level of exposure to these metals; hence even low levels of contamination are a concern.
Baby food companies, their suppliers, and the food safety agencies that oversee them need reliable, relevant results from lab tests to determine if ingredients meet government and internal safety standards. The Council has found that lab proficiency and reporting practices for heavy metals testing are highly variable and can lead to false assurance that an ingredient does not contain the substances.
Accordingly, the Council has initiated work on creation of a Baby Food Standard and Certification Program focused on identifying and implementing the best practices that can further minimize heavy metals in vegetables and fruits commonly used in baby foods.
Further information on the Council’s formation and membership can be found at https://www.foodchainid.com/babyfoodstandard/
Additionally, information on the Council work to establish a Baby Food Standard and Certification Program can be found at https://www.foodchainid.com/babyfoodstandard/certification/