Well-Being Medical Advances

Democrats to introduce bill to regulate toxic heavy metals in baby food

Story at a glance

  • Democrat lawmakers, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tammy Duckworth, introduced the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021.
  • It will regulate chemical limits in baby food.

A group of Democrat lawmakers are planning to introduce new legislation into the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, March 26, that aims to tackle dangerous chemicals found in certain baby food brands.

Dubbed the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021, the forthcoming bill will be introduced by the U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.). 

The bill specifically focuses on the trace amounts of inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury that are not regulated in baby food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If passed, the FDA would be required to oversee and set maximum levels of each chemical to be permitted in baby food.

“Parents deserve to have peace of mind that the baby and toddler food they purchase is safe and nutritious,” Duckworth said in a press release. “Reports that many types of commonly sold baby and toddler food products may contain levels of harmful metals that pose potential risk to babies, such as arsenic and lead, are deeply troubling. That’s one of the reasons why I’m proud to help introduce legislation today to address this issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the FDA on making sure what we feed our children will help them grow up safe and healthy.”

 

 

In addition to regulating the levels of chemicals found in baby food, the bill would also authorize $50 million in federal funding for research on agricultural methods of reducing heavy metal presence in crops. 

An accompanying public outreach campaign would be deployed as well, run through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The chemicals targeted in the bill are known to have neurotoxic effects. Even low-level exposure is linked to decreases in IQ and diminished future economic productivity, as well as behavioral issues in children.

Advocacy groups working in children’s and environmental sectors have spoken out in support of the proposed law.

“The Baby Food Safety Act is an important step forward in recognizing the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children,” Jaclyn Bowen, the executive director of the Clean Label Project said. “Food safety is not JUST about microbial and pathogen contaminants. It’s about fostering healthy nutrition during the critical period of brain and immune system development.”

Charlotte Brody, the national director of the Healthy Babies Bright Futures coalition, also praised the bill.

“The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 will do just what its title states it will do: It will make baby food safer,” she stated. “It’s not just a piece of legislation. It’s a solution to a problem that parents can’t solve without the government’s help.” 


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