Fort Worth, Texas,
10:11 AM

Should You Worry About Toxic Metals Found in Baby Food? The Doc Smitty Weighs In

An alarming government report regarding toxic heavy metals in baby food may have caught your attention. It says these foods are “tainted” with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.

Is this information cause for concern? Yes, but it’s not exactly new and sadly, there’s no easy fix for the problem.

The report is the result of a congressional investigation released on Thursday, Feb. 4. It says four of the nation’s largest manufacturers knowingly sold baby food with “significant levels” of metals that can impact brain development for babies and toddlers. Previous studies (which we have covered in the past) have found similar results but the significance of the increased levels is still not clear.

The latest investigation focuses on seven brands and the four heavy metals listed above: arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Each brand analyzed showed significantly higher levels of at least one heavy metal than allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You may be thinking that organic brands are safer, but even they contained elevated levels.

Where are these metals coming from?

The chemicals in question are naturally occurring elements and are in the soil where crops are grown. This is why they are found in the ingredients of baby food, and are difficult to eliminate, even if you’re feeding your child organic brands or making food yourself.

So, what should we do?

We should:

  • Ask government and industry leaders to make every effort to eliminate heavy metals from food where possible. This could mean changes at the production or processing level.
  • Ask scientists to research the real effects of these amounts of heavy metals are on our babies as they grow up.

But what can you do as a parent?

  • Remember that switching to organic or providing homemade purees probably does not significantly reduce risk. If you weren’t already doing these things, I wouldn’t suggest changing what you’re buying.
  • Avoid high-risk foods, especially those without nutritional value. Some of the foods I don’t recommend include: 
    • Rice cereal
    • Teething biscuits
    • Rice-based puffs
    • Apple juice
  • Provide a variety of foods over time. Sticking with one particular food may contain significant amounts of an individual metal and could cause higher risk for your child.

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at

He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.