Fox News contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said parents should not worry -- but must pay close attention -- after an alarming study on popular baby foods in the U.S. revealed that 95 percent of products tested contained toxic ingredients, including arsenic and lead.
"They shouldn't be worried, but they should be paying attention to this," he said Monday on "America's Newsroom."
The study, conducted by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, found baby cereal and rice-based snacks to be the most toxic and echoed similar research conducted previously by the FDA and other consumer agencies.
Siegel, a practicing internist and a professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, pointed out that the study found that one out of five products showed "ten times" the allowable amount of lead. He said exposure to heavy metals hinders early childhood development, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made headway in reducing the levels of arsenic and lead in foods.
Buying organic or choosing to make your own baby food will not prevent exposing your child to the harmful ingredients either, the researchers warned, as heavy metals are naturally occurring in soil and water and are found at elevated levels in fields polluted by pesticides, contaminated with fertilizers or other contaminants.
"It's a problem that's very hard to get rid of," said Siegel, stressing that parents should not be fearful based on these findings.
In the study, researchers looked at 61 brands and found that 88 percent of foods tested lacked any federal standards or guidance on maximum safe levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic and lead.
Puff snacks and other rice-based foods like infant cereal were among the highest levels, with researchers claiming to find “no evidence to suggest that any brand has reduced heavy metals levels in rice to amounts comparable to those in other types of grains, despite at least 10 years of significant public attention to the issue that has included widespread consumer alerts and a proposed federal action level.”
The findings prompted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to call for immediate action, alleging the FDA is "sitting on its hands." Siegel said Schumer is "grandstanding" and said the FDA has been able to reduce the amount of arsenic in juices by 75 percent and by 35 percent in cereals.
Fox News' Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.