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Survey of Metals in Commercial Infant Foods, Infant Formula and Non-infant Specific Foods

FERA - Food and Environment Research Agency
HallMark Meat Hygiene
Start date
End date

Around 200 samples of commercial infant foods and 50 samples of powdered and ready to feed infant formula (including follow-on formula and growing up milks) will be purchased from retail outlets and analysed ‘as sold’ for the following metals and other elements:

  • Aluminium
  • Antimony
  • Arsenic (total)
  • Arsenic (inorganic) - if a detectable level of total arsenic is measured
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Mercury
  • Nickel
  • Selenium
  • Tin
  • Zinc

In addition, 50 foods that are not specifically manufactured or intended for infants (but that are or may be consumed by infants) so called ‘non-infant specific foods’ – such as bread and bananas – will be analysed for the same metals and other elements as the commercial infant foods and infant formula. The foods selected will be based on those that make the largest contribution to the infant diet, as recorded in the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC) along with the Department of Health recommended first foods, next foods and foods from 8-9 months and 12 months. Each of these 50 foods will be made up of a composite of 10 samples from different manufacturers and retailers and average concentrations of metals and elements will be reported for each food.

More information

Background: The estimates of dietary intakes for the general population cannot be easily or accurately extended to infants, as infants consume a diet that is different in many ways from that of adults and of children old enough to eat conventional adult foods. In the early stages of weaning, the infant diet is made up entirely or largely of breast milk and/or commercial formula, and when solids are given, a large proportion may be commercially available infant foods. Infants' energy requirements and food consumption are on average higher relative to their body weight than that of adults and older children. This means that infants can have relatively higher dietary exposures to chemicals present in food than other age groups, when expressed on a body weight basis. Up to date information is needed on the levels of metals and other elements in these food groups, in order estimate infants’ dietary exposure.

Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project source
View this project
Project number
Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Heavy Metals