Federal legislation due to be introduced would set strict limits for levels of heavy metals in baby food and give the government power to recall products that don’t meet them.
The legislation was scheduled to be introduced in both houses of Congress on March 26 by Democratic lawmakers. It would set levels for cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic in baby food. Right now only arsenic is covered by FDA regulations.
The legislation, called the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021, would empower the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services to recall baby food that exceeds the limits for heavy metals. Since many heavy metals are present in the soil in which rice and other ingredients are grown, the bill also would fund studies on agricultural practices to cut contamination at the source.
Heavy metal levels in baby food have been a concern for years. It received extra attention early in February when a report from a House subcommittee detailed the extent of the problem.
"Heavy metals are poisons to those beautiful little brains," Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) said in a press briefing quoted by CNN. "They strip our children of the ability to think, they strip our children of their ability to grow to their full potential, and these are things that shouldn't happen, not in the United States of America."