Two new studies presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis in the United States sounded the alarm about the presence of heavy metals in food for children and infants.

Earlier, a 2021 report from the United States Congress, revealing that high levels of metals had been found in baby food, had already raised concerns. More recently, dangerously high levels of lead were found in fruit purees for children.

Felicia Wu, a food scientist from Michigan State University, led the research, published in Risk Analysis, to better understand the dangers of lead, arsenic, and cadmium in food. The first study, analysing the risks associated with exposure to these metals through food, found that lead, common in old paints and pipes, is linked to moderate or high risks of various types of cancer and more. Arsenic, naturally present in some foods, is associated with significant risks for the skin, bladder, and other organs. Cadmium, found in nuts and potatoes, is linked to moderate or high risks of various types of cancer and other health problems. Special attention was given to children, especially after the discovery of worrying levels of cadmium in foods intended for them.

A previous study by Wu revealed that children aged 6 months to 5 years are particularly exposed to cadmium in common foods such as rice, spinach, and oats. In the second study, researchers examined the cancer risk associated with inorganic arsenic in foods in the United States. Preliminary estimates, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, suggest that there could be over 6,000 additional cases of bladder and lung cancer each year, and over 7,000 cases of skin cancer due to the consumption of inorganic arsenic. These studies, the authors suggest, highlight the need for universal rules to ensure a safer food chain for everyone.


More information on the findings of the two studies is available at