Why there still aren’t limits on lead in baby food

Lead poisoning cases in kids linked to contaminated applesauce continue to rise. Despite efforts to limit exposure from sources like paint, the U.S. doesn’t broadly limit lead levels in food.

Despite strong efforts to limit lead exposure from sources like paint and gasoline, the U.S. government doesn’t broadly limit lead levels in food, a blind spot that’s become all the more glaring, experts say, as cases of lead poisonings in young children linked to contaminated cinnamon applesauce continue to mount. 

As of Tuesday, lead poisoning had been reported in at least 65 children, all younger than 6, who ate pouches of now-recalled cinnamon apple puree and cinnamon applesauce, up from 57 cases two weeks ago, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

Children under the age of 6 are most vulnerable to lead poisoning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The heavy metal can lead to developmental problems, damage to the brain and nervous system, and problems with learning, behavior, hearing and speech. Lead exposure can lead to lower IQ and underperformance in school, according to the CDC. 

Recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches from Weis, WanaBana and Schnucks.FDAEfforts to set guidelines to limit lead exposure in children go as far back as the 1980s, when the government began work to reduce children’s exposure to lead from paint and gasoline as well as from food packaging, like lead-soldered cans, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, director of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone Health. 

The U.S. was successful in driving down exposure to lead-based paint, which remains the leading cause of lead poisoning in children, Trasande said; however, it has not until more recently focused on limiting lead directly in food. In 2022, the FDA introduced limits for levels of lead in apple juice and juice blend drinks, and it also set lead standards for candy made with sugar.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/still-arent-limits-lead-baby-food-rcna129013


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Updated: 3 months ago
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