A group of Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Friday will introduce legislation that would set new maximum levels of toxic heavy metals in baby food – and require manufacturers to comply within one year.
The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 would set maximum levels of inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury in baby food and cereal that manufacturers would have to meet within one year.
The bill would require those levels to be lowered further within two years through U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance, and after three years through regulation. It would require manufacturers to test final products – not just ingredients – for toxic heavy metals and require them to post product testing results online.
The bill will be introduced by Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tony Cárdenas and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tammy Duckworth.
Earlier this month, the FDA said it would boost sampling of foods for babies and young children and increase inspections after Krishnamoorthi’s House oversight subcommittee released a report finding “dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals” in some baby foods that it said could cause neurological damage.
The FDA did not commit to issuing new regulations, but said it was moving ahead with a “plan aimed at reducing toxic elements in foods for babies and young children to levels as low as is reasonably achievable.”
The FDA has declared inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are dangerous, particularly to infants and children. The FDA in August finalized guidance to industry, setting an action level of 100 parts per billion inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.
The bill would limit inorganic arsenic to no more than 15 parts per billion for cereal.
FDA said testing shows “children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements in foods” and noted toxic elements are present in the environment and can enter the food supply through soil, water or air.
Baby food companies say they are working to reduce levels of metals that occur naturally in food products.