Arsenic in Baby Food – Is it Bad and How to Avoid?

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Arsenic in baby food

As parents, we rely on and trust branded baby foods and consider them safe for our little ones. But did you know that such foods can actually have hidden impurities? Multiple recent research studies conducted across the US have shown that packaged baby foods contain a mix of different metals such as lead and arsenic. Arsenic in baby food is especially a cause for concern.

Heavy metals were found in 95% of baby foods tested according to a study carried out in the year 2019. Exposure to toxic heavy metals like arsenic in baby food can lead to severe health consequences such as developmental problems and cognitive impairment. Parents must take steps to minimize the risks associated with arsenic and other toxic heavy metals in baby food. So what is the impact of arsenic exposure on the health of your baby? And is there a way to minimize the risk factrs?

In This Article

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is a heavy metal that is naturally found in Earth’s crust. It is spread across water resources and the atmosphere as well. The inorganic form of arsenic is known to be quite harmful and can lead to cancers and other skin issues. Long-term exposure is also known to increase the risk of heart disease. Arsenic exposure can have quite serious consequences for pregnant women, infants, and young children.

Is Arsenic Bad For Babies?

Is Arsenic Bad For Babies

Yes, arsenic can be harmful to babies and can lead to various health problems. Parents should know potential sources of arsenic contamination in baby food and take steps to minimize their baby’s exposure to arsenic. This can include choosing foods that are lower in arsenic, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains other than rice, and ensuring that the water used to prepare baby food is free from arsenic contamination. 

Here are some of the reasons why arsenic can be bad for your munchkin.

  1. Invitro exposure and exposure during infancy to arsenic carries a risk of higher mortality rates among babies due to an increased risk of cancers.
  2. The risk of ailments related to the heart, lungs, and kidneys also increased manifold due to the long-term presence of arsenic in the system
  3. Inorganic arsenic or arsenic present in pesticides and chemicals is associated with higher cancer rates.
  4. In addition, long-term exposure to arsenic can cause developmental and learning delays, impaired cognitive functioning and lower IQ.
  5. Babies also are known to develop brain-related and breathing-related issues.

How Does Arsenic Get Into Baby Food?

How Does Arsenic Enter Baby Food

Arsenic has many ways of sneaking into your baby’s food. Having an awareness of this can help you ensure that your baby stays protected from this contamination.

  • Arsenic can be found in both soil and water in its naturally occurring state. Rice absorbs more arsenic from soil and water than other crops. Rice-based baby foods and snacks may contain high levels of arsenic.
  • Industrial processes such as the use of arsenic-based pesticides and herbicides can also contribute to arsenic contamination in food.
  • Arsenic can be present in the water used to prepare baby food, particularly in areas where the water supply is contaminated. It is important for parents to be aware of this potential contamination and take steps to reduce their baby’s exposure to arsenic in food.

How to Avoid Arsenic in Baby’s Diet?

Avoiding arsenic in baby diet

It may be impossible to completely avoid arsenic in your baby’s diet. Instead, you can reduce exposure to this metal in a few different ways.

1. Choose Foods Carefully

Choosing foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains other than rice can help reduce exposure.

  • Fruits, vegetables, and grains other than rice have lower levels of arsenic.
  • Instead of relying solely on rice-based products, offer a variety of grains such as oats, quinoa, and barley.
  • Rinse rice thoroughly before cooking to remove some of the arsenic. Cooking rice in excess water and draining off the excess water can also help reduce arsenic levels.
  • Consider purchasing rice and rice-based products from sources that regularly test for arsenic levels.
  • Avoid offering rice milk to babies as a replacement for breast milk or formula, as it can contain high levels of arsenic.
  • Juice can also contain arsenic, so limiting or avoiding juice consumption in babies is best.

[Read : Giving Fruit Juice For Babies]

2.  Pick the Right Water For Cooking

Ensuring that the water used to prepare baby food is free from arsenic contamination is also important. If using tap water to prepare baby food, check the local water supply for arsenic contamination.

3. Avoid Processed Foods

Avoiding processed baby foods that have higher levels of arsenic is a good way to minimize arsenic contamination. You can feed your baby safe and low-arsenic-risk foods instead.

Parents should know many baby foods and snacks contain toxic heavy metals, like arsenic, that can harm their baby’s health. To minimize exposure to these substances, parents should choose foods with lower levels of arsenic, avoid processed baby foods, be mindful of the water supply and rice milk, and take necessary steps to ensure their baby’s health and well-being.

[Read : Rice Milk For Babies And Toddlers]


1. How Much Arsenic is Safe in Baby Food?

There is no safe level of exposure. Although FDA has established a guidance level of 100 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal to help reduce exposure, it’s not a safety limit. Many organizations are now petitioning to reduce this level to a much lower level in order to help safeguard the health of future generations.

2. What Baby Foods Have High Arsenic Levels?

Most baby foods that contain rice may have high levels of arsenic. This is due to the groundwater having high levels of arsenic and the nature of rice to readily absorb this chemical. Foods that have high levels of arsenic include rice-based baby foods, processed baby foods such as puffs and teething biscuits made with rice or rice flour, and even some organic baby foods.

Read Also: Can You Give Packaged Juices To Your Baby?

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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