Saturday, July 03, 2010

Lead in Children's and Baby Foods

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) released a report finding lead in a variety of popular fruit and juice products, including apple and grape juices, fruit cocktails, and even some baby foods.  Tests were done on 398 samples of products purchased in California.  Link to find a list of all the products tested, and you'll see whether they did or did not exceed the warning threshold (under California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act - ie 'Prop 65'). 

It is important to note that several organic brands are lead offenders (ex: Trader Joe's Organic Apple Juice and Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice).  So, again, please have a look through the entire list of products tested if you have any concerns.

This is disturbing.  As consumers, many of us know the importance of reading labels to find the nutritional no-no's like hydrogenated fats.  But, nowhere on our product labels will we read "lead"!  This time round I feel somewhat fortunate that our daughters are not big juice drinkers, and prefer drinking water to anything else.  But, what about the next report on toxicity in food, toys, or clothing?  I feel as if we are largely helpless when corporate greed or carelessness brings us to the results of a report such as this.  I know that there are companies out there working to produce goods in socially and environmentally conscious ways.  The trouble is, most of these companies are not the ones producing mass-marketed products that the majority of families consume. 

I will be back with a more upbeat post soon (and the giveaway winner).  Just wanted to bring this to your attention.  You can link to the full ELF report here.


Angela said...

& the list is confusing - one kind of Trader Joe's organic apple juice is ok, one is not. When, as a consumer, I choose to vote for organic & least process, but it does not matter, what am I to do? I am assuming that all these brands get their raw materials from the same few sources - I know that small businesses often use large business processing plants or are subsidiaries of the large businesses, so, if I don't have the time or resources to make my own apple juice (or insert product here) what am I to do??

Mindy said...

One of the finest things you can do for your body is get a juicer and drink FRESH juice. Many of us believe processed, heated juices are largely devoid of nutrients anyway; now we learn they are also often toxic. The goal for me is to remove more and more processed foods from my diet (including those labeled organic, many of which are glorified junk foods) and stick with whole and fresh. Seem like a lot of work? It can be a lot of work, but that's the way it is folks (food prep and growing food can also be looked on as sacred time, if you so choose). For inspiration, go visit the Urban Homestead site (Dervaes family - also called the Path to Freedom site, Happy Independence!). Go to the growingyourgreens channel on YouTube, as it's also important to begin growing your own. Sheri, of Green and Crunchy, describes feeding her five kids (and she is pregnant with a sixth and home schooling) a totally vegan & high raw diet. All their snacks & desserts are home made and raw. If Sheri can do it, we all can. I truly believe this is the path for all of us now who are reaching for health and piece of mind, and where there is a will there is a way. Bottom line: stick to the produce and bulk areas, and stay away from bottled and canned for maximum health.

Dreena said...

Angela, I know, it's very confusing how one manufacturer can have products in both the 'ok' and 'not okay' category listings. I hear your frustration, b/c it's not just about apple juice, it's about food safety (and other products) in general.

Mindy, I agree that we should strive to consume a large portion of raw and unprocessed foods. We do so ourselves in our family, and also don't drink juices (only rarely, like at bday parties for the kids), and I use our BlendTec to make whole juices, etc. Yet, this is not an issue of being raw vs. not eating raw. This is a matter of product safety in general. Even the raw diet still relies on some bottled/jarred foods (ex: coconut oil, coconut butter, raw oils, etc). So, the issue of food safety (and also product safety for toys/clothes) remains (albeit to a lesser extent). I would also suggest that it is not very practical for most people to eat a fully raw diet, depending on where they live and their lifestyle circumstances. For instance, we have three children and eat a lot of raw foods. But, to pack their school lunches everyday would be incredibly challenging on a fully raw diet. Not just the preparation, but also the matter of nut allergies in schools (not peanuts, but nuts). Also the climate and access to fresh produce and reasonably priced raw foods is not very practical for many families living in more rural and northern parts of North America. I have no disputes with eating fully raw, but it just isn't that attainable for most people, and that's coming from someone that purchases a significant amount of fresh produce every couple of days, and uses a lot of raw nuts and other raw products in meals and snacks. I'm not challenging the raw diet, and understand your enthusiasm for it... it's just not very practical for most families. So rather than discourage positive steps to healthier eating that are not raw diet-based (ex: using frozen vegetables, canned beans, organic tomato sauces, etc), we should be encouraging these healthier lifestyle trends that focus on more plant-based whole foods - and as consumers we should have a higher degree of trust and accountability from the companies that produce these products (ditto for clothing and toys). Thanks for commenting and sharing the information about the Dervaes family website.