Presence of Toxic Pesticides Found in Nearly 40% of Conventional Baby Food, US Study Reveals

by Ella

In a recent study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it was discovered that close to 40% of conventional baby food products examined in the United States contained toxic pesticides. Strikingly, none of the organic products scrutinized in the survey exhibited any trace of these harmful chemicals.

The research, which analyzed 73 baby food products, identified at least one pesticide in 22 of them. Numerous products exhibited the presence of more than one pesticide, posing a significant health risk to infants, as highlighted by researchers.


Sydney Evans, a senior science analyst at EWG and co-author of the report, emphasized the vulnerability of babies and young children to the health risks associated with pesticides in food, underlining that food is a primary avenue of pesticide exposure for children.


The study focused on products from well-known brands such as Beech-Nut, Gerber, and Parent’s Choice. However, the report did not explicitly specify which products from these companies contained pesticide residue.


The pesticides identified included acetamiprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide harmful to both bees and humans, and captan, a substance linked to cancer. Fludioxonil, detected in five products, is commonly used on fruits, vegetables, and cereals, and is believed to have adverse effects on fetal development, immune system cells, and hormones.


Several other pesticides discovered in the study have associations with damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. Notably, limited public toxicity data is available for four of the identified pesticides.

Products based on apples were found to be most likely to contain high levels of pesticide residue, with blueberries, pears, and strawberries also commonly exhibiting elevated levels of these harmful chemicals.

For concerned parents, the study emphasized that the best approach to avoiding pesticides is to opt for organic baby food products, which adhere to more stringent regulations. Notably, these organic options are increasingly becoming competitively priced. EWG has also developed produce guides that provide information on pesticide residue levels.

Despite the concerning findings, the study did reveal some positive trends. Comparing the results to a similar study conducted in 1995, EWG noted a broad decrease in pesticide levels in baby foods. The earlier research found pesticide residues in 55% of products tested, including more hazardous pesticides.

The Food Quality Protection Act passed in 1996 mandated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure a “reasonable certainty” that pesticide residues would not harm children and infants. Notably, chlorpyrifos, a pesticide capable of causing permanent damage to babies’ brains, was banned for food use in 2021.

While progress has been made, oversight remains weak, and any level of pesticide exposure is a concern for infants. The process of banning chemicals is often protracted, involving administrative and court battles, and consumers are faced with conflicting information from chemical manufacturers, regulators, and public health advocates.

Olga Naidenko, a co-author of the study and leader of children’s research for EWG, emphasized the need for continued advocacy, acknowledging that although any pesticide residue in baby food is worrying, progress has been achieved in reducing the detection of some of the most toxic chemicals found in a 1995 study.



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