On June 15, 2017 the non-profit organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) published a report on children’s exposure to lead from food entitled “Lead in food: A hidden health threat.” In an EDF Health blog post published on the same day, Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director of EDF, and Maricel Maffini, independent consultant, inform about a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicating that “food is a meaningful source of children’s exposure to lead” (FPF reported).

In the EDF study, Neltner, Maffini, and colleagues evaluated more than 12,000 available test results from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Total Diet Study, collected and analyzed by the agency from 2003 and 2013. Key findings of EDF’s analysis include: 1) 20% of baby food samples contained detectable amounts of lead compared to 14% of other food samples, 2) for eight types of baby foods (grape juice, sweet potatoes, mixed fruit juice, arrowroot cookies, apple juice, teething biscuits, pear juice, and carrots), over 40% of samples contained detectable amounts lead, and 3) for the baby food versions of apple juice, grape juice, and carrots, there were more samples containing lead than for the regular versions of these foods.

“No safe level of lead in blood has been identified,” and “in children, even very low blood lead levels can cause behavioral problems and lower IQ,” the EDF report highlights. In light of the study’s results, EDF calls on the FDA, manufacturers, and parents to do their part in reducing children’s exposure to lead from food, and in general. Among other recommendations, EDF urges the FDA to ensure that “lead is not added to any food contact material where it is reasonably expected to get into food.”

Read more

Tom Neltner (June 15, 2017). “Lead in food – An overlooked, but meaningful, source of children’s exposure to lead.EDF Health

Jenny Ahlen (June 15, 2017). “Companies can and should do more to eliminate lead in food – our kids’ health depends on it.EDF + Business


EDF Health (June 15, 2017). “Lead in food: A hidden health threat.(pdf)

EPA (January 2017). “Proposed modeling approaches for a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water.” (pdf)