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FDA releases plan 'Closer to Zero' to reduce toxins in baby foods

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Posted at 2:22 PM, Apr 09, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a plan Thursday to reduce toxic elements in foods consumed by babies and young children.

The action plan, Closer to Zero, will look to having the agency reduce the levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury in baby foods to the "greatest extent possible."

"We recognize that Americans want zero toxic elements in the foods eaten by their babies and young children," the agency said in a news release. "In reality, because these elements occur in our air, water, and soil, there are limits to how low these levels can be."

The agency plans to reduce further the toxic element levels in foods that'll be made by:

  • advancing the FDA’s research on and evaluating changes in dietary exposures to toxic elements
  • setting action levels, with input from stakeholders
  • encouraging adoption of best practices by industry to lower levels of toxic elements in agricultural commodities and products
  • increasing targeted compliance and enforcement activities, and monitoring the progress of levels over time.

The FDA said the plan would occur in three phases using a four-pronged approach:

  • Evaluate the scientific basis for action levels
  • Propose action levels
  • Consult with stakeholders on proposed action levels
  • Finalize action levels

The agency said they would prioritize arsenic and lead because they have the most data and information on those two toxins.

The FDA added that their testing shows that children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements at the foods' levels.

The plan's news comes after a house oversight committee report in February showed levels of heavy metals in many popular baby foods, including organic brands.