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Take Action: In Our Country

In 2021, the Food and Drug Administration announced its Closer to Zero action plan “to reduce exposure to arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury from foods eaten by babies and young children — to as low as possible.”

But their target date of April 2022 has come and gone, and FDA has still not followed through on the proposed action levels in the foods babies eat.

For every day that passes, nearly 10,000 more babies in the U.S. begin eating solid food. The FDA must take swift action to protect the next generation of children.

To make the promise of Closer to Zero a reality, FDA must:

The timeline proposes final standards for lead and arsenic that are two or more years from now. For cadmium and mercury, no date has even been specified. 

FDA has proposed only four standards for single metals in single foods — arsenic in infant rice cereal, lead and arsenic in apple juice, and lead in other juices. But HBBF’s 2019 study shows that one-fourth of all baby foods contain all four toxic heavy metals.

Closer to Zero action levels need to be low enough to protect children with prenatal and early life exposures from all sources.

Current sourcing, farming, and processing practices have all failed to protect children and should not drive safety standards for baby food. When FDA acts, the food industry can respond to reduce levels. 

FDA must provide a strong precedent for action levels still to come. All four action levels are weak, largely reflecting limits companies are already meeting instead of advancing change. 

Holding up FDA’s work for months has a consequence — babies face continuing high exposures to heavy metals for the duration of OMB’s delay.