Kimberly Lord Stewart
For the first time since the inception of its pesticide-testing program in 1991, USDA looked at pesticide residues on baby food. Department scientists analyzed about 190 samples each of prepared baby food consisting of green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. This week the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released findings on the foods with the and an analysis of baby food.
Green beans prepared as baby food tested positive for five pesticides, among them, the organophosphate methamidiphos, which was found on 9.4 percent of samples, and the organophosphate acephate, on 7.8 percent of samples. The EWG analyzed baby food samples in 1995 and found the two organophosphates in surprisingly similar concentrations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to “minimize using foods in which chemical pesticides or herbicides were used by farmers. “Organophosphate pesticides are of special concern since they are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children,” said EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton. “Infants in particular should avoid exposure to these pesticides since they are more susceptible to the effects of chemical insult than adults.”
“Federal testing of pesticide residue in baby food was long overdue, as infants are especially vulnerable to toxic compounds,” said Andrew Weil, MD, Founder and Director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and a renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness.
“Now that it has begun, the results are highly disturbing. It is bad enough that baby food contains pesticides at all; the fact that pears contain a likely human carcinogen is an outrage. Parents should purchase organic baby foods, or better yet, prepare their own by putting organic foods through a simple hand-turned food mill (search the internet for “baby food mill”). It is vital that an infant’s developing brain and nervous system receive only uncontaminated, nutrient-dense foods.”
Pears prepared as baby food showed significant and widespread contamination. Fully 92 percent of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, with 26 percent of samples containing 5 or more pesticides and 15 different pesticides on all samples. Disturbingly, the pesticide iprodione, which EPA has categorized as a probable human carcinogen, was detected on three baby food pear samples. Iprodione is not registered with the EPA for use on pears. Its presence on this popular baby food constitutes a violation of FDA regulations and the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Sweet potatoes, sold as baby food, had virtually no detectable pesticide residues. The extent of pesticide contamination document by USDA’s baby food tests highlight the need for the department to accelerate testing of baby foods and for EPA to reduce further the organophosphate pesticide exposures allowed for Americans, especially infants. For more on which fruits and vegetables have the highest and lowest pesticide residues for your baby, link here.