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EarthTalk: Contaminants in baby food

EarthTalk: Our Environment - Contaminants in baby food

This week the Clean Label Project (CLP), a recently formed non-profit, released results from its data analysis of potentially harmful contaminants found in baby food.  The first ‘CLP Magnified List, Baby Food’, found at www.cleanlabelproject.org, highlights the products that meet or exceed standards established by CLP’s Medical Advisory Board. Nineteen percent of the tested products met these standards and are not particular to any organic or conventional brand, manufacturer or retailer.

As news reports continue to uncover contaminants like arsenic and lead in food and water, consumers have been unable to make informed choices about the foods they buy that contain such substances, until now. CLP, based in Denver, Colorado, is the first and only organization to provide consumers with information to help them choose the purest* foods based on independent laboratory tests for 130 additives and chemicals that do not appear on ingredient labels, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, antibiotic and pesticide residues.

The CLP Magnified List, Baby Food reveals:

  • Only one toddler snack made the list, largely due to arsenic levels in rice-based snacks.
  • 80 percent of infant formulas and 60 percent of meat and dairy baby food jars tested contained detectable antibiotic residues.
  • 33 percent of jars and meals tested had detectable pesticide residues.  
  • 15 percent of all products tested exceeded the FDA/EPA drinking water limit for arsenic, some by at least 20 times as much.
  • Heavy metal impurities were found in both organic and non-organic products.  Organic certification regulates the food production process, not finished products. CLP tested finished products off grocery store shelves for 130 contaminants, including heavy metals.
  • Price is not an indication of purity.

Testing was conducted on 628 baby food products, representing approximately 90 percent of the market’s top selling brands purchased in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  CLP used an accredited, independent lab to blind test packaged foods for toxic and heavy metals, pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA), antibiotics, food coloring and flavors, and other unwanted substances. The data was reviewed by an advisory board of physicians, epidemiologists and food scientists who analyzed the risks of each tested substance using a proprietary algorithm to set a benchmark for foods that make the “CLP Magnified List” of the purest* products. Products that did not reach the CLP benchmark were not included on the list. 

“We are sharing recommendations based on tested and benchmarked data so that consumers can make informed choices about which are the purest* food products on store shelves,” said Doug Porter, board chair of CLP.  “We are a consumer advocacy group that exists to promote food products with the lowest levels of contaminants within a product category.  We want to help consumers see beyond the label so they can make more informed choices,” he noted.

CLP’s vision is a cleaner food supply for everyone. CLP hopes that educating consumers to demand cleaner food will result in increasing change within the complex food-supply chain.

The ‘CLP Magnified List, Baby Food’ is the first of many food and household product categories that will be analyzed by CLP for contaminants. Consumers, retailers and manufacturers can access the recommendations at www.cleanlabelproject.org. The CLP community can be found on Facebook and Twitter.