The Environmental Defense Fund analyzed 11 years of data between 2003 and 2013 from the Food and Drug Administration as part of its Total Diet Study, which also found traces of lead in 14% of all other food samples. The toxic metal was most commonly found in grape juice samples (89 percent), sweet potatoes samples (86 percent), and teething biscuits (47 percent).
In fact, there were eight types of baby food that contained lead 40 per cent of the time.
Concern over fruit juices flared up in 2012 when Consumer Reports found that one in four samples of apple and grape juices had lead levels higher than the FDA's bottled-water limit of 5 ppb.
Pediatricians who weren't involved in the study noted that lead-based paint and lead-contaminated water are by far the main sources of lead affecting USA children.
Caregivers can contact baby food brands and ask that their products be lead-free.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) however has said that there are no safe blood lead levels in children identified yet.
The FDA says the administration set a maximum daily lead intake of six micrograms, which is being reviewed, saying on its website, "lead is in food because it is in the environment and lead can not simply be removed from food". The nonprofit confirmed that there are detectable levels of lead in some 20 percent of baby foods on the market. It's also unclear why baby foods would have more lead than adult foods and why some products within a food category could test negative while others had relatively high amounts. "The agency is in the process of reevaluating the analytical methods it uses for determining when it should take action with respect to measured levels of lead in particular foods, including those consumed by infants and toddlers".
Average dietary lead exposure for young children is around 2.9 µg/day, which approximately equates to daily levels in food at about 2.9 ppb (assuming average consumption of about 1 kg of food). Bu the FDA says lead can come from our environment, getting absorbed by food crops planted in contaminated soil.
But she said she wouldn't want parents to avoid root vegetables altogether. But a report published Thursday by the Environmental Defense Fund raises questions about another, surprising possibility: food.
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.