Heavy Metals in Food and the Questions We Need to be Asking

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A recent report released on February 4, 2021, by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Committee on Oversight and Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, revealed shocking levels of heavy metals in baby food ingredients. This report was sparked by testing initiated by Healthy Babies Bright Future in August of 2020.

On March 25, 2021, the New Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 was presented and, if passed, will regulate heavy metal levels in baby food for the first time. Multitudes of scientific studies have shown that even low levels of heavy metals cause brain damage and permanent dysfunction. They can also damage the nervous system, gut, heart, reproductive, and overall health and learning disorders.

The need to regulate heavy metals in baby food is imperative for the safety, health, and mental capacities of an entire generation of babies. Bipartisan support for the passing of this bill is crucial, considering the amounts of heavy metals in all our foods is left up to the manufacturers. What about foods generally purchased by adults that are also given to children? Or to the elderly? Or mentally impaired? Or even healthy adults?

If an adult is purchasing a vitamin or cinnamon spice, even organic, according to these test results, they could be subjecting themselves to high levels of heavy metals. Over time, the body’s ability to detox those heavy metals wanes. One would not be off base to question: If heavy metals are in baby foods, what adult foods are contaminated with heavy metals? And could the exposure contribute to mental health issues and violence in adults? If the federal government will only regulate heavy metals in baby foods for the foreseeable future, who will make sure that the levels of heavy metals in adult foods are safe?

For now, it is up to the manufacturers. Most consumers cannot test for heavy metals in their food. Heavy metals are not disclosed on the package. But suppliers and food manufacturers can test. Consumers expect food manufacturers to step up, do the testing, and source ingredients that do not contain heavy metals.

The task may seem near impossible when current levels top 600-900 ppb of arsenic and lead in ingredients. Understanding the source of high levels of heavy metals is crucial to achieving the “near-zero” goal.

Some suggest that the bowls or metal machinery used in foreign countries to grind or process the vitamins or spices are the culprits. Regulation in third world countries, where some spices tend to come from, is near impossible for U.S. regulators, as fraud is rampant and visiting on location is something our regulators simply do not have the resources or people power to do.

The test results showed that contamination went beyond cinnamon and vitamin mix. Across the board, many food items, specifically rice and root vegetables, even organic, had higher levels of heavy metals than the EPA deems safe for drinking water.

Soil experts like Dr. Don Huber say that it’s not just the equipment.

Pesticides like glyphosate and fertilizers made from CAFO manure are likely major contributing factors to the uptake of heavy metals in spices and food. Glyphosate herbicide has been shown to be a powerful pipe cleaner, chelating (grabbing onto and holding) heavy metals. Irrigation pipes are often made of lead and are contaminated with agrochemicals upstream containing a myriad of heavy metals from petroleum-based pesticides and fracking water.

What if glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide globally, is chelating and carrying heavy metals from upstream agrochemical and industrial waste into the crop plants as it is absorbed into the plant?

What if the glyphosate irrigation contamination and CAFO manure applications on the soil are the main reason for the heavy metals in our baby food and adult food?

What if ignoring this possibility and refusing to test foods, manure, and irrigation water, contributes to the decline of an entire generation?

What if, by addressing this matter, food companies could help prevent mental disorders, behavioral and learning disabilities, reproductive and nervous system damage, loss of IQ, loss of productivity, and lower health care costs?

What if what we need to turn our mental health crisis around is for food manufacturers to have the integrity to find out the truth about heavy metals and pesticides in their ingredients and stand for a safe food supply?

As a mother and human being sick with despair over the number of shootings, violence, and learning disabilities showing up in our families, I am frustrated. As a person who has read Barbara Stitt’s book Food and Behavior, the Natural ConnectionI am saddened beyond description over the ineptitude of our regulators to address the connection between toxins in our food and mental health issues and take preventative actions.

Moms Across America implores food manufacturers to do better than the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 (which must be passed as a foundation) and go the extra mile by testing your ingredients and final product for heavy metals and glyphosate. Ask your suppliers to require heavy metal testing (the EPA should pay for these tests) and take actions to change suppliers when acceptable levels are not present.

Thank you for considering investing in the future of our nation by instilling integrity into your food manufacturing practices today. Food companies that do so will be celebrated by the mothers who buy 85% of the food and make 90% of household decisions.