Extremely high levels of lead in the water in Flint, Michigan has increased the national awareness of the risks posed by toxic metals in water and food. Heavy metal toxins that can affect our food supply include arsenic, lead, and mercury. Scientists say that the detrimental effects of these toxins can create health problems in humans. However, eliminating these toxic metals from our food supply is not always possible due to their natural occurrence in nature.
These metals are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil too. When these toxic metals are in our soil and water, they are absorbed into plants and crops that are consumed by people and also by the animals that become a part of our food supply.
Toxic Arsenic in Rice
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is paying close attention to how these toxic metals affect the most vulnerable populations, such as children. Rice absorbs arsenic from soil and water. Arsenic has been associated with health problems such as brain malfunctions, diabetes, kidney problems and cardiovascular ailments.
According to reports by JAMA Pediatrics, amounts of arsenic are twice as high in the urine of babies that consume rice as compared to babies who do not have rice in their diets. Often the cereals that babies eat have rice content in them. The FDA recommends that rice formulas should not be the main source of nutrition for infants and toddlers. Parents can limit or substitute rice formulas with barley, oats, or multigrain sources.
Lead and Mercury in Foods
Studies reveal that when exposed to lead, humans and animals can store the toxic metal in their bones. Scientists studied the levels of lead in broth made from the bones of organic chickens. It was discovered that the broth from the chicken bones contained high levels of lead.
There are many health benefits of eating fish because they are high in Omega-3s, but food experts say that consumers should avoid eating too much fish. Some fish contain high amounts of mercury. Therefore, certain food scientists suggest eating fish with lower amounts of mercury or limiting your intake to be safe.
FDA Measures to Combat High Levels of Metals in Food
The FDA is taking a proactive step to monitor the levels of metals in our food supply. Over the years, metals themselves have not become more harmful, but the advances in science and medicine are revealing more about the devastating impact they can have on our health.
Today, modern technology helps scientists determine how to improve and create ways to reduce the levels of metals in the foods consumers enjoy. Scientists can now better understand and detect these dangerous metals, and they can gauge the amounts or levels of metals in our foods.
For several years, the FDA has given consumers important advice regarding the consumption of seafood, rice cereals for children, and ways to reduce toxic metals in certain foods. Now, the organization is taking more measures that examine the impact and effects of all metals in all foods that we eat. This will improve the food supply for future generations.