New Study on Baby Food Raises Questions—What Can Parents Do?

Updated on November 16, 2017
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Healthy living writer on thinking habits, wellbeing, and family life. All articles researched based in psychology, science, and parenting.


The Clean Label Project Study

Just released on October 25, 2017, a study via The Clean Label Project, a non-profit organization, tested 60 brands and over 500 infant formula and baby products for contaminants, including lead and arsenic. The results have been concerning—arsenic was the biggest contaminant found in most baby foods, as well as products claimed as BPA-free that tested positive for BPA. Articles are already streaming the news, web, and Facebook on this fairly recent study. All parents want the best for their children, especially in the early years where brain development and motor skill function is at a crucial stage. When we read of these new study findings, we are a bit unnerved on how corporations allow these toxins to be in infant and toddler food. However, a good question to ask is: "Do we know about the earth's resources that are naturally grown into the food we eat, and in which foods do they naturally occur?"

I am a parent of a toddler and some of the foods and food pouches mentioned are brands I have used, such as Parents Choice, Gerber, and Plum Organics. Obviously, worry set in on what I was feeding my child. Many though can be assured that the claim about arsenic has already been proven to be found in most foods naturally, especially rice. Previous research does support the issue on the amounts of this component, rice is the biggest plant-based food that carries arsenic and unfortunately, it is also widely used in baby food products. Knowing this information can help any parent grow in awareness.

"Rice and rice-based products have been reported to contain higher levels of arsenic relative to other foods, and are commonly used in weaning."

A Natural Component

The biggest eye-opener should be that traces of arsenic and lead are naturally found in the water we drink and foods we eat, vegetables and most fish are known to be safely metabolized in the body. And there are two different kinds of arsenic, organic and inorganic. So when reading the ratings in the Clean Label Project info-graphic, it makes sense that "Organic" certified baby foods have a higher percentage, most likely containing both organic and inorganic, that information can help parents choose rice or vegetable products more wisely.


Not Just Baby Food

Knowing the facts can help eliminate the spread of unnecessary worry or panic. Like Cadmium, it is an industrial metal and is part of the periodic table; already being in the soil is a huge factor, which switches attention to environmental issues that not only affect baby food but ALL foods. It doesn’t help us parents for the media to focus in on just what is in our children’s food, we ourselves eat and share foods with a certain level of these natural components, watching our children’s diets and limiting foods higher in arsenic can be a precaution to take. And Regarding BPA, a lot of times it is best to research a product or have good street smarts with the use of plastic ware and bottles. Such as avoiding using a water bottle that has been exposed to the sun/heat for a period of time; the same can go for other products. There is some credit to recent studies (other than the Clean Label Project) on learning more of what is in our foods and choosing better quality products. It is good to remember though that we all are exposed to traces of mineral and metal contaminants; these are naturally organic and are okay through moderation.

"Arsenic does have the potential to be toxic, but as the World Health Organization explains, it is 'a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land.' Lead is also a naturally occurring metal."

What is questionable about the Clean Label Project study is hard evidence or detailed findings are not really disclosed to the public, leaving most people asking questions instead of being truthfully informed. A great way to protect our children is knowledge, the more detailed information we can receive the better informed we are to finding alternatives.

Here are some things parents can do for healthier options:

  • When in doubt, research or ask a professional. Sometimes it is simply gaining a better knowledge of certain foods or topics. Double checking on claims made can also help eliminate questions or concerns.
  • Either eliminate or limit any rice-based foods and formula.
  • Make your own formula. There are alternatives other than commercial formula, if you have the means to obtain all of the necessary ingredients, you can check out this Homemade Baby Formula Recipe.
  • Make your own baby food. This also adds the benefit of spending less on feeding your baby.
  • Look into natural living products to eliminate any extra intake of inorganic toxins. One very reputable choice is Young Living Essential Oils they now carry a Seedlings line strictly for little ones.


It can be stressful reading about 'alarming studies' and truly gets a parent worried. As a mother myself, we are always making sure to provide the best food, environment, and love for our children. Ensuring that what we give them is safe and will not harm them in the long run. Fact checking news material and choosing natural reputable products is a great step to not only keep your family safe but give peace of mind.

© 2017 Melissa Johnson


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    • MJ-Inspirememom profile image

      Melissa Johnson 4 months ago from North Carolina, US

      Hi Liztalton. I am glad you found these to be good suggestions and yes, I thought it would be great to share to ease some parents anxiety on the issue. I even learned something from it as well, because you don't really think about those things being in your food naturally, so was even a learning experience for myself! Glad you liked this.

    • Liztalton profile image

      Liztalton 4 months ago from Washington

      I've read the results of the study on baby foods as well and of course it gives me tons of anxiety as a parent. But my anxieties are more at ease since reading your article. I love the research you did to take a deeper look into the results of the study. Great suggestions for healthier food options for little ones.