Testing & Auditing
Testing & Auditing
more than 30 years of ingredient testing for heavy metals & metalloids
all ingredients in our purees are tested for up to 255 pesticides, toxins, heavy metals & other environmental elements
up to 20 rigorous, quality tests on our finished purees
lab analysts with over 140 years of combined food and testing experience
FAQs about Heavy Metals & Metalloids
Since the industrial era, heavy metals & metalloids have impacted our global food supply and soils. Thanks to advances in testing technology, scientists today have deeper understandings of how these environmental elements permeate produce & agricultural systems.
What is Beech-Nut Doing About Environmental Elements, such as Heavy Metals & Metalloids?
- We have an in-house testing lab where we test ingredients for environmental element levels using state-of-the-art, testing technology.
- We reject ingredient samples that do not meet our internal quality policy for naturally-occurring, heavy metals & metalloids taken up by crops’ roots during the growing process.
- Our internal, chemical testing lab has now gained ISO 17025 Certification, a global accreditation for scientific testing labs.
Finished Goods Testing:
- In 2022, we began testing our finished goods to validate our ingredient testing results. “Finished goods testing” involves collecting random, representative samples of our baby food jars, pouches, cereals & snacks before they are distributed to consumers, then testing those samples with laboratory analyses for consistency with their ingredients’ testing results.
- We are pleased to report that our finished goods testing process consistently verifies that our raw material testing is both adequate and accurate.
Beginning in 2022, we decided to stop using rice as an ingredient in our Beech-Nut branded baby food, due to our concern about the ability to consistently obtain rice flour well-below the FDA guidance level and our specifications for inorganic arsenic.
Avoid the Peel:
Heavy metals tend to accumulate in peels and outer casings. Our sweet potato and carrot purees are pre-peeled.
A McGill University study showed that heavy metal concentrations were significantly lower in sweet potato flesh than in the peel, suggesting that when consuming potatoes grown under wastewater irrigation, the peel poses a higher health risk than the flesh.
We use a variety of fruits and veggies as ingredients. The FDA says feeding a variety of ingredients to your children is recommended to minimize their exposure levels to naturally-occurring, heavy metals & metalloids in some foods.
In April 2021, the FDA announced its Closer to Zero Action Plan with a goal to reduce exposure to heavy metals & metalloids from foods commonly consumed by infants & young children. Beech-Nut is fully committed to working with FDA on the agency’s action plan and believes that establishing science-based FDA “action levels” for the presence of naturally-occurring, heavy metals & metalloids in baby food is what is best for our industry and the families we serve.
What Else Can I Do as a Parent to Provide Healthy Foods?
Ask Your Doctor:
It is always a good idea to speak with your child’s pediatrician about a diet that includes a variety of age-appropriate, healthy foods that provide needed nutrients.
Feed the Rainbow:
The FDA says to offer a variety of fruits and veggies to help minimize your child’s exposure to metals and other environmental contaminants.
Feed Nutrient Dense Foods:
Feeding nutrient dense foods may help to prevent heavy metals from accumulating in the body. Research from The Journal of Pediatrics suggests that correcting and/or preventing iron deficiency appear to be a rapid and effective means of reducing infant lead levels, even in non-anemic infants.
When in Doubt, Peel
Heavy Metals tend to accumulate in peels and outer casings of fruits and vegetables. Ask your pediatrician about how to balance feeding grain casings (“whole grains”) and fiber-rich peels to your child.
Research, Research, Research
We encourage you to read the below articles from leading scientific sources.
All ingredients that go into our purees are tested for up to 255 contaminants and environmental elements, such as pesticides, heavy metals & metalloids, allergens and foreign materials in food samples sent to us from farmers and suppliers. We reject ingredient samples that do not meet our internal-quality standards for naturally-occurring, heavy metals & metalloids.
To monitor the quality of purees, we test every hour of jar & pouch production for taste, texture, color, consistency and viscosity (thickness).
Identifying miniscule heavy metal & metalloid particles within food is not an easy task. In 2019, we upgraded our internal testing technology to a machine that uses kinetic energy discrimination (KED) technology. This top-of-the-line technology can help us detect extremely low concentrations of heavy metal & metalloid particles in ingredients—as small as “ppb” (parts per billion).
In 2022, our Beech-Nut lab earned an ISO-Certification from the U.S.-based accreditation body, Assessment Accreditation Services | A2LA. ISO 17025 accredited laboratories ensure test result accuracy, consistency, team member training and best practices and are internationally recognized to perform quality & safety testing on food
✔️ This distinction allows us to not only conduct accredited lead, cadmium, & arsenic levels tests for our food, but also for other companies’ foods.
✔️ Operating an accredited, in-house lab lets us conduct our tests more frequently.
How do Beech-Nut’s Heavy Metal & Metalloid Testing Procedures Compare to Clean Label Project’s Testing Procedures?
You may have seen awards or certifications from the Clean Label Project on some baby food & toddler product labels & advertising. See how Beech-Nut’s heavy metal & metalloid testing procedures compare:
|Laboratory Tests:||Clean Label Project’s Purity Award (Baby Food Category)||Beech-Nut Lab Tested|
|Tests are conducted within an ISO 17025 Certified Lab, a global laboratory standard||✔️||✔️|
|Tests detect molecular levels of Total Cadmium, Lead, and Arsenic||✔️||✔️|
|Tests can detect molecules of heavy metal & metalloids as small as <5 ppb (Parts per Billion)||✔️|
|Raw Ingredient Testing:||Clean Label Project’s Purity Award (Baby Food Category)||Beech-Nut Lab Tested|
|Lab tests samples of raw ingredients||✔️|
|Lab performs additional surveillance testing for ingredient crops that may absorb heavy metals & metalloids more readily than other crops during the growing process||✔️|
|Finished Goods Testing:||Clean Label Project’s Purity Award (Baby Food Category)||Beech-Nut Lab Tested|
|Lab tests samples of finished goods from final production||✔️||✔️|
|Lab tests samples of finished goods from final production before they hit store shelves||✔️|
|Lab performs additional surveillance testing for products containing ingredient crops that may absorb heavy metals & metalloids more readily than other crops during the growing process||✔️||✔️|
|Number of samples per item & frequency of test:||1 sample per item, 1 time a year||5 samples of item per every production batch|
|Awards:||Clean Label Project’s Purity Award (Baby Food Category)||Beech-Nut Lab Tested|
|Award Criteria||Awarded products’ levels rank within the top 33% of Clean Label Project’s prior baby food testing data, regardless of their absolute levels of heavy metals & metalloids.|
Source: Clean Label Project Code of Practice
While news headlines seem scary, we recommend reading these resources to learn more about heavy metals & metalloids:
- FDA: FDA Shares Action Plan for Reducing Exposure to Toxic Elements from Foods for Babies and Young Children
- FDA: Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal
- USDA & DHHS: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025
- Cleveland Clinic: Should Parents be Worried about Toxic Heavy Metals in Baby Food?
- Chemical & Engineering News: Reducing toxic metals in food
- Michigan State University: Heavy Metals in Baby Foods
- Dr. Emily Oster: Toxic Baby Metals
- Toxics Journal: Heavy Metals and Pesticides Toxicity in Agricultural Soil and Plants: Ecological Risks and Human Health Implications
- Environment International: Heavy metals in food crops: Health risks, fate, mechanisms, and management