babyContaminants in baby foods are not a new phenomenon. Ten years ago we had a melamine crisis where several Chinese companies sold milk and infant formula products adulterated with melamine and cyan-uric acid.  The adulteration affected ~300,000 victims. Six infants died from renal failure and an estimated 54,000 babies were hospitalized. Trade restrictions were imposed by 68 countries, there were 60 arrests, two executions, and the loss of consumer confidence.  Melamine was added to the products to increase the protein content, as it was determined by a non-specific total nitrogen test, and melamine has a large amount of nitrogen per unit mass. This was an example of economic adulteration at its worst! But this fraud brought forth new analytical testing methods for melamine, and Thermo Fisher Scientific has developed solutions for the testing of melamine in infant formula.  Learn more in this application note: Determination of Melamine in Powdered Milk by LC-MS/MS Using a Core Enhanced Technology Solid Core HPLC Column

Next came perchlorate in infant formula. Perchlorate is a naturally occurring and manufactured chemical anion which is used in rocket propellants, fireworks, matches and signal flares. It is also naturally occurring in some fertilizers. In 2009, a federal study  found powdered infant formula containing trace levels of perchlorate which is known to damage thyroid function. Learn more in this application note: Analysis of Perchlorate in Infant Formula by Ion Chromatography-Electrospray-Tandem Mass Spectrometry.

According to a new study by Clean Label Project, more than 25 percent of 500 infant formulas and baby foods that were tested exceeded the state or federal safety guidelines of acceptable levels of contaminants. The contaminants found in excess included lead, arsenic, mercury, bisphenol A (BPA) an endocrine disrupter, and acrylamide a neurotoxin and carcinogen. So now we are confronted with metals, food packaging material and food processing contaminants in baby foods!

Luckily, with innovative technology from Thermo Fisher, these contaminants are easy to analyze in various food and beverage products. Below are the contaminants that were listed in the study by Clean Label Project and relevant testing solutions for each contaminant. Click here for further reading.

Arsenic: Determination of Arsenic in Food and Beverages with Pure Oxygen Reactive Gas Using the iCAP RQ ICP-MS

Lead: Analysis of Toxic Elements in Drinking and Bottled Waters using the Thermo Scientific iCAP 7200 ICP-OES

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Arsenic speciation: Arsenic Queens University – Inorganic arsenic in rice-based products for infants and young children

Mercury: Mercury Speciation Determinations in Asian Dietary Supplements   

Bisphenol A: Determination of Bisphenol A in Infant Formula by Automated Sample Preparation and Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

Acrylamide: Fast Determination of Acrylamide in Food Samples Using Accelerated Solvent Extraction Followed by Ion Chromatography with UV or MS Detection