Today, my 17-month-old daughter, Josie, and I are joining mothers and babies from across the country to advocate for strong national standards that would dramatically reduce toxic heavy metals in baby food. From kitchen tables to bedroom offices to playrooms, moms and babies from more than a dozen partner organizations, including Moms Clean Air Force, are meeting virtually with their members of Congress to ask them to add their support for the Baby Food Safety Act.
Let me repeat that — dangerous, health-harming heavy metals have been found in food that is meant for our babies. A recent congressional report found “significant levels” of heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, in baby food — both conventional and organic.
This news is stunning and outrageous, but it’s true: Lead. Arsenic. Cadmium. Mercury. These are poisonous to a baby’s developing brain and nervous system. No mother should have to worry that the food she is spooning into her babies’ mouths, day after day, could potentially be poisoning them.
How did heavy metals end up in our baby food? Heavy metals are found in the soil and water used to grow food — they can drift from the spraying of pesticides or other sources. They can also be introduced during manufacturing — during the process of making the food. And they can be introduced during the packaging processes.
Whatever routes heavy metals take into food must be stopped.
The Baby Food Safety Act hits home. I am no stranger to the damage toxins can do in our children. In 2012, my family was poisoned by a toxic chemical spill from a nearby train derailment, causing my now 10-year-old, Liam, to have chronic health impacts.
And then in 2016, Liam was exposed to and again sickened by a toxin — this time, the heavy metal mercury — from the flooring at his school. As a parent to a child who has suffered impacts from, not one, but two toxic chemical exposures, I know what a serious issue this is, and how important it is to the health of our children.