Versatile diet keeps intake of heavy metals under control


<p>In Sweden, a study has been conducted regarding heavy metal and mineral levels in children's foods.&nbsp;The heavy metal levels did not exceed the set maximum amounts. Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira emphasises that a versatile diet is the best way to avoid the adverse effects of any substances contained in foodstuffs.</p>

The Swedish National Food Agency Livsmedelsverket published on 23.1.2013 the results of a study regarding the levels of certain heavy metals and minerals in foods intended for children. The foodstuffs covered by the study included infant formulae and follow-on formulae, porridges, gruels as well as rice, oat and soy drinks, and foodstuffs intended for children with medical problems. The total number of products included in the study was 92.

The studied products contained varying levels of heavy metals, i.e. arsenic, lead and cadmium, but the set maximum amounts were not exceeded. The results are consistent with the results of studies previously conducted in Finland. As concerns the minerals that were studied, which were iron, copper and manganese, levels exceeding the maximum amount were found in three products. The Swedish food control authorities are taking action regarding these products.

Based on the results of the Swedish study, Evira also recommends that rice drinks not be used in the nutrition of children under 6 years of age. According to Evira, the study does not in other respects give cause to change current dietary recommendations. Parents should still heed the advice provided by child health centres on children's nutrition. A versatile diet is the best way to avoid the adverse effects of any substances contained in foodstuffs. 

The new study results do not give cause to stop using commercial baby foods either. For children who need to follow a special diet due to e.g. a food allergy, Evira recommends that no changes are made in the diet without consulting the child's doctor or nutritional therapist. 

Evira is about to determine which of the products included in the Swedish study are available on the Finnish market. Evira will also be in contact with local control authorities to obtain more information about the in-house control of product manufacturers and importers. The need for any further action will be decided on based on this information. 

Finnish Food Safety Authority Eviras has a major scientific risk assessment project underway; Dietary exposure of Finnish children to heavy metals – cumulative risk assessment. The project will be concluded in 2014 and will be used as the basis for more specific dietary recommendations, if necessary.

Read more:
The press release of the Swedish National Food Agency Livsmedelsverket regarding the study
FAQ on children's foods

More information: 
Arja Kaiponen, Head of Unit, Product Safety, tel. +358 50 386 8432