Parents may be concerned about a recent report from across the pond. Congress has found leading US baby food brands that their food contains high levels of toxic heavy metals. You can read the full report here.
The findings sound alarming, and if you're a new parent, you may be wondering is baby food safe in the UK? What are heavy metals? How harmful are they? What can I do to limit my baby's exposure to them?
Here are the facts.
What are heavy metals?
Heavy metals are elements such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury which can be toxic to plants and animals (including humans!) if present in large quantities.
There are some heavy metals that our bodies need, like iron, zinc, and manganese. These can also become harmful in large quantities - however this is very unlikely!
How do heavy metals end up in baby food?
Heavy metals can occur naturally in the soil and water where the key ingredients in baby food is grown. On earth, most of our agricultural soil and water contain metals from decades of pollution and pesticide use.
Baby food ingredients, mostly rice and vegetables, absorb metals from the polluted soil, water and air. This means that sometimes even organic, fresh ingredients can have traces of heavy metals in them.
As adults, we are likely to have some exposure to heavy metals in our food on a regular basis. But as babies bodies are much smaller than ours, the same amount of heavy metal exposure can have more of an impact on their bodies. This makes them more at risk.
It's important to bear in mind that the report is focused on US baby food manufacturers. In the UK, our baby food goes through rigorous testing and the EU has tighter restrictions than the US on pesticide use and levels of heavy metals on food. But it is still something parents should be mindful of, particularly with imported and processed foods.
How can I minimise by baby's exposure to heavy metals?
Rice is particularly effective at sucking up and storing heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead and mercury. Avoiding rice products such as baby rice or rice cereal can help to lower your baby's exposure.
Consider replacing rice products with other whole grains such as amaranth seed, buckwheat, bulgur, millet or organic oats, which are also more nutritious.
Tuna has been founded to accumulate more mercury from the ocean over time and should be avoided in large quantities.
Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots may contain higher levels of these substances as their grow in the soil. But, they are packed with nutrition, so as long as your child is eating a variety of fruits and veggies there's no need to worry or cut them out!
Bear in mind, even when buying food which is organic or only serving homemade food, there will still be some exposure to heavy metals. The key is to try and reduce this exposure as much as possible.
Are Mamamade meals safe?
All of Mamamade's produce is 100% organic and considered to be baby safe.
We don't heat anything up to high temperatures, as the pasteurisation process that long-life producers rely on to keep their food shelf-stable exposes food to more heavy metals. Our meals are made in small batches with minimal processing to avoid this.
We carefully chose our plant-based ingredients from UK farms that do not use pesticides or expose our ingredients to harmful toxins.
We also do not include certain ingredients, such as rice, in any of our mixes to reduce toxin exposure as much as possible.
Parents can be assured that we are committed to ensuring our baby food is safe and nutritious for their little ones!
Check out our range of organic, plant-based baby meals here.