Square Baby’s Founders on Minimizing Heavy Metals in Baby Food
To Our Square Baby Family,
We know how stressful the recent headlines as well as previous previous reports can be, especially since many of the levels in the commercially-made baby foods that were tested are unacceptable and scary.
We are here to help.
With transparency and nutrition science at our core, our goal is to add clarity to what you can expect from Square Baby.
We believe in and are committed to sourcing the highest-quality, safest ingredients for our families – taking the same care and obsession for quality and safety as if your children were our own.
Unlike the large baby food manufacturers, we are a smaller company making our meals weekly in a Certified Organic commercial kitchen by our dedicated chefs — in small batches. We are proud to source local, seasonal produce where possible. Because of this, we cannot test every batch of all 24 meals each time (as we scale, we intend to build this into our QA process).
Because we also want assurance that our meals are safe, we sent our most “at risk” meals (Apple Curry Chicken with organic sprouted brown rice, as well as Lil Carrot and Lil Sweet Potato) out for Third-Party Lab Testing to detect any level of heavy metals that may be present.
LAB RESULTS: our most “at risk” meals came in below the detectable threshold (as close to zero as you can test) of <10 ppb (parts per billion) for Cadmium, Arsenic, Lead, and Mercury.
The report notes that heavy metals occur naturally in soil and water — making both organic and conventional foods susceptible to heavy metals. This is why we strive for the best sourcing, safest cooking methods, and a wide variety of foods to reduce metals in our meals as much as possible.
This is also why we support and encourage tighter FDA regulations and safety measures to help the industry (farms and producers) minimize the amount of metals in our soil and in our foods.
There are currently no maximum arsenic levels established for baby food, except for infant rice cereal, where the maximum is 100 parts per billion (ppb) inorganic arsenic. However, the FDA has set the maximum allowable levels in bottled water at 10 ppb of inorganic arsenic. Clearly, there is a huge opportunity for the FDA to help baby food companies, farmers, and parents. And we are here to support in any way we can.
Here are some simple, helpful tips from the report to reduce heavy metal exposure:
Here’s how we’re doing our best to minimize naturally-occurring heavy metals and deliver the most nutrient-dense, sustainably-sourced, and freshest baby food to your doorstep:
- We offer a wide variety of foods (over 55 organic veggies, fruits, whole & sprouted grains, proteins, health fats & herbs/spices) as recommended by the study and the Academy of Pediatrics. Offering a variety of foods will not only reduce heavy metal exposure, but it will also ensure your baby is getting a variety of nutrient-dense foods, antioxidants, as well as important, naturally-occurring vitamins & minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and vitamin C & D to help block metal absorption and increase elimination from the body.
- We’ve chosen sprouted grains & seeds such as sprouted quinoa, millet, amaranth, chia, as well as sprouted brown rice. The sprouting process increases the nutrient value, improves nutrient bioavailability (body’s ability to absorb), makes the grain easier to digest, and also reduces the amount of metals because the sprouting process involves an additional step of soaking and draining the water.
- In an effort to further reduce metals: we added an additional step of rinsing the grains (after sprouting, and before cooking), and cook grains with excessive water, as recommended, and drain off the extra water.
- We use only organic foods — never any additives, preservatives, or fillers. The report suggested that some of the store-bought baby food may have higher levels of heavy metals from additives like vitamin & mineral mixes.
- To provide the freshest, most nutrient-dense food for your baby, we do not manufacture meals like the store-bought, shelf-stable foods that have been extensively processed at high heats. Our purees are made fresh in small batches — just like homemade. Our grains are cooked in small pots and our fresh produce is gently steamed or roasted.
- And, of course, we source only certified organic, non-GMO ingredients (with the exception of salmon and shrimp, which cannot be certified organic – we proudly choose Wild Alaskan Salmon & Wild Shrimp) from the best farms and trusted suppliers.
Helpful Research & Resources:
- Academy of Pediatrics response and recommendations regarding minimizing heavy metals in baby’s food.
- Link to study re: washing, soaking rice: Concluded that the washing and cooking of rice lowered the health risk by reducing Cadmium, Arsenic and Lead concentrations and bioaccessibilities respectively.
- Here’s another great blog by Wellness Mama “Is There Arsenic in Rice? And How to Find Safe Rice”.
- Dietary Strategies for the Treatment of Lead and Cadmium Toxicity: “Some edible plants, such as tomatoes (rich in iron, calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B and C, quercetin and naringenin), berries (rich in essential elements, vitamin C, anthocyanin and catechin), onions (rich in selenium, quercetin and vitamins B and C), garlics (rich in sulphur-containing compounds, essential elements and vitamins C and E) and grapes (rich in vitamins, essential elements and anthocyanin) are of special importance as natural antagonists to Cd and Pb toxicity and should be consumed on a regular basis.”
- How to Fight Lead Exposure with Nutrition: Read more about how Calcium, Iron & Vitamin C help block heavy metal absorption.
- Vitamin D, Essential Minerals & Toxic Elements: The role of essential minerals (ie Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Iron, and Selenium) as well as Vitamin D in reducing absorption and increasing elimination of toxic heavy metals in the body.
We are 100% committed to providing our families with the best, safest, most nutritious product. And we are committed to transparency. At the end of day, we’re here for YOU.
As of March 2023, we've earned the Clean Label Project "Purity Award!" We've been working closely with the Clean Label Project as we scaled into our new commercial facility, designed new eco-friendly packaging, and selected our organic ingredient suppliers and farms! Learn more here.
Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
~Katie & Kendall, cofounders
Katie Thomson, MS, RDN (CEO); Kendall Glynn, MS, CGC (COO)
(last published in April, 2023)