December 31, 2008 at 8:11AM
by Alexandra Zissu
With the melamine in Chinese baby formula scandal (hopefully) behind us, I've been wondering what else might be in baby formula that could pop up as a scary scandal or at least given a closer look in 2009. Here are five thoughts:
As our government repeatedly goes back and forth on "deciding" if BPA
is bad for us or not (ha), the fact that this hormone disrupter has been found in baby formula will likely resurface in the public eye. With good reason! It leaches from metal can linings into formula ready-to-eat liquid (and to a lesser extent powdered). According to an Environmental Working Group report
: "The amount of BPA ingested by some bottle-fed infants exceeds the doses that caused serious adverse effects in animal studies."
2. Water, water everywhere
According to the NRDC
, the water used to mix infant formula "might contain chlorine by-products, weed killers, insecticides, solvents, lead and arsenic. In rural areas, nitrates from fertilizer runoff into water have caused the sometimes fatal "blue baby syndrome." Water in general not just when mixed with baby formula seems to be and will continue to be a hot button issue in 2009. I'm wondering if anyone is studying the effects on kids of the pharmaceuticals now said to be in our municipal water.
3. Manufacturing by-products
Also according to the NRDC
: "Formula itself may have contaminants introduced in the manufacturing process. In the past, recalls have been ordered because of contamination with substances such as broken glass, fragments of metal and salmonella and other bacteria. The fungal toxin aflatoxin has also been detected in some commercial formulas. Although detected levels were very low, this toxin is known to cause cancer and is not present in breast milk. Infant formulas also may contain excessive levels of metals, including aluminum, manganese, cadmium and lead."
If you have spare time to Google MSG, you'll find many people saying it's harmless, and others saying it's a neurotoxin
. Interesting reading. And a largely unavoidable substance if you eat processed and/or packaged foods. The stuff is everywhere. Which means that unfortunately it shows up in baby formula, too.
5. Genetically modified ingredients
Formula can contain GM ingredients like soy, GM corn syrup, or milk from cows injected with GM hormones. Ick.
So how to avoid all or most of the above?
First, breastfeed if possible, for as long as possible (yes, breastmilk can be very contaminated itself but its benefits far outweigh the risks). And/or use organic not conventional baby formula out of plastic, never metal, cans. Test your water, or do the research to find out what is in your municipal or well water and filter accordingly before mixing with powder. Push for stricter manufacturing standards. While USDA organic standards don't permit GM ingredients or MSG, it's my understanding that naturally occurring MSG can be present even in organic food, a by-product of the natural breakdown of yeast.