FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Natalie Moran
Yesterday, the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a report that found “dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals" in certain baby foods. The panel tested Nurture Inc, Hain Celestial Group Inc, Beech-Nut Nutrition, and Gerber, a unit of Nestle. Walmart Inc, Campbell Soup Company and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate. Earth Best is a current member of NWA, while Beechnut, and Gerber are past members.
Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA) issued the following statement in response:
"The health and nutritional wellbeing of the infants and young children WIC serves is crucial to the National WIC Association. The published findings by the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy regarding toxic metals found in baby food are concerning. For WIC staff and families, this report raises significant uneasiness about the nutritional options for their clients and children.
"Heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are listed in the World Health Organization's top ten chemical concerns for infants and children. The presence of these metals in consumed foods can lead to developmental brain damage in babies. While the FDA has yet to establish a heavy metal limit, they have set a requirement for inorganic arsenic in infant rice. This may prove a meaningful starter for stricter provisions on baby food toxicity levels. NWA encourages the FDA to move expeditiously to develop heightened safeguards for the health of our babies and infants, including as the report recommends, standards regarding maximum levels of inorganic lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury.
“NWA is heartened by the recommendations put forth in the subcommittee report to expand mandatory testing, require labeling of toxic metals, and phase out toxic ingredients. Manufacturers must take these essential steps if they are to gain trust with the public and families with young children.
“Given the impact that heavy metals have on infant and toddler brain development, coupled with the high prevalence of toxic metals in infant foods, NWA supports the implementation of the subcommittee recommendations as a means to ensure the optimal health and wellbeing of the nation’s youngest children.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides recommendations for lowering the risk of heavy metal exposure including serving a variety of foods, rotating the types of grains provided, and breastfeeding, if possible.
“In addition to providing breastfeeding education and support, WIC provides access to a wide range of infant foods and fresh vegetables and fruits that promote healthy eating and supports good health. WIC agencies encourage parents to feed their infants a variety of foods.
“NWA applauds the subcommittee on the release of their report and urges the FDA to take swift action to develop and release meaningful standards for toxic metals to protect the near and long-term health of our nation’s children.”