Homemade baby food contains as many toxic metals as store-bought, study finds

But there are ways parents can minimize exposure

If you think making your own baby food is safer than using store-bought options, a study finds that's likely not true.

SAN ANTONIO – Alondi Alberti makes her own baby food for her daughter, Rain, because she wants to be sure what she’s feeding her is safe.

“I worry about what’s in store baby food all the time because I just don’t know what to trust, what’s in the soil, where that product is being raised,” the first-time mother said.

But homemade might pose the same problems as store-bought baby food, according to a report from Healthy Babies Bright Future.

“When it comes to detectable levels of heavy metals, the report finds that homemade baby food is not safer than store-bought,” said Consumer Reports’ Kevin Loria.

Those heavy metals include lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. The biggest offender is foods made from rice, such as rice puffs and rice cereals.

“While heavy metals naturally exist in the environment, most metals in food come from farming practices or industrial pollution. And certain ingredients like rice and spinach are more likely to absorb certain metals,” Loria said.

Exposure to heavy metals in children has been linked to behavioral issues, lowered IQs, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to set limits on metals in certain foods.

But until that takes effect, Consumer Reports suggests the following ways for parents to keep their children’s food safe:

  • Make sure your kids eat a healthy variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli and sweet potatoes.
  • Focus on meals made with foods that tend to have lower levels of heavy metals, such as bananas, oranges, eggs and meats.
  • In addition, eat fresh or frozen fruits instead of canned.
  • Replace infant rice cereal with infant oatmeal.
  • Peel sweet potatoes and carrots to reduce heavy metal levels. And offer tap water instead of fruit juices.
  • If you’re used to giving your kids rice puffs as a snack, CR recommends offering your kids applesauce, fruit, yogurt or cheese instead.

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About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.