Baby Formula SHOCKER: Arsenic, Mercury, Cyanide & Hexane…

Posted on June 15, 2012
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by Kelley Herring

We received quite a number of responses to our recent newsletter “One Food Babies and Children Should Never Eat.” In that message, we discussed the dangers of soy-based infant formulas. (If you missed that newsletter, you can read it here.)

Here are just a few of the questions and comments submitted by Healing Gourmet subscribers:Commercial baby formulas contaminated with toxins

  • “You have raised excellent points as to the unhealthiness of soy, and now I am extremely anguished by this. I would NOT have fed this to my son if I had known about these issues and if I had any alternatives.” – Bonnie N.
  • “I asked many dieticians and doctors what I should feed my child because of his allergies, and they all said soy was acceptable.” – Carrie P.
  • “I have a 5-month old grandson that has been diagnosed with an allergy to whey proteins in formula. I am very concerned with the way the doctors are constantly switching him around on formulas. He is not a guinea pig! He is suffering and deserves to be a happy healthy baby. Being a newly graduated nurse and grandma makes me hungry for knowledge on how to help my little man.” – Anna M.
  • “We just found out that my son suffers from enlarged breasts because we gave him soy milk and soy products when he was a baby!” – Sue B.
  • “I am adopting a child and cannot breast feed. What is the best option?” – Lindsay D.

We also heard from numerous concerned parents, grandparents and parents-to-be, who simply want to know what safe alternatives there are to soy-based formulas.

In this issue of the Healing Gourmet newsletter, I’ll reveal some truly shocking information about what’s in commercial baby formulas. I’ll also share with you what I believe to be the best alternative to mother’s milk.

As a new, first-time mother, this is an issue that hits very close to home. But it’s also a critically important issue, because less than 14% of babies born in the United States are exclusively breastfed to the recommended six months of age.

But the Doctor Said Soy Formula was Safe!

The points we raised in our previous newsletter on soy formula were meant to shed light on the potential long term risks of a practice that is widely accepted and promoted by the medical community as “safe”.

While many babies are able to consume soy formula without immediate issues, the truth is that we don’t know the long-term health effects of feeding these unnatural foods to infants.

Do you remember when doctors advised us to ditch butter… and to eat margarine, with heart-stopping trans-fats instead? Or how about the countless endocrinologists who still advise their diabetic patients to swap sugar for sucralose (Splenda) – a substance that we now know lessens control of A1C (a measure of how well diabetes is being managed)?

These are just two examples of man-made foods that we were told are perfectly “safe” and even “healthier” than natural alternatives. Only later did we learn that these “foods” have been found to promote disease – including the disease they intended to prevent!

And while many parents believe that soy formula is the obvious alternative for formula-fed babies who are allergic to cow’s milk, the truth is that up to 14% of infants with an allergy to cow’s milk also have an allergy to soy.

So what about milk-based formulas anyway?

Organic Milk-Based Formula (With a Side of Arsenic!)

A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that infant formulas – including organic milk-based formulas – are contaminated with arsenic.

arsenic in baby formulaArsenic is an extremely poisonous metallic element. It is linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. And it is well known to cause developmental effects.

Not only did the researchers from Dartmouth discover that 15 infant formulas sold in the U.S. contained arsenic, but 60% of those formulas contained 100% inorganic arsenic. According to the World Health Organization and the FDA this is most deadly form.

Although the study did not identify the products by name, the researchers noted that two organic infant formulas had arsenic levels six times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency considers “safe” for drinking water. The arsenic in these two formulas was also 20 to 30 times higher than the other products tested.

So, how does arsenic get in baby formula?

It comes from the brown rice syrup that is used as a sweetener. Rice plants take up silica to help them stand up in water-logged soils. But to the rice plant, arsenic “looks” very similar to silica. So any arsenic that is in the soil (usually from previous use of pesticides on the land) is easily taken up by the rice. In fact, rice pulls more arsenic from the soil than any other grain.

And don’t forget that the effects of this contaminant are compounded in babies dues to their small size and immature development. Dr. Brian Jackson, the lead researcher of the study says:

“Because of their small size, if babies are exposed to arsenic, they are exposed to a disproportionately high amount on a body-weight basis.”

The tragic irony is that manufacturers have recently been trading high fructose corn syrup (which is laced with mercury) for brown rice syrup (which is loaded with arsenic) in an attempt to make their products “healthier”.

Yet both sweeteners are contaminated with poisonous neurotoxins!

And speaking of neurons, what about the brain-boosting omega-3s that manufacturers are adding to baby formulas to promote “healthy brain development”?

Includes Brain-Boosting Omega-3s (plus HEXANE!)

The DHA and ARA supplements that manufacturers are adding to baby formula have been linked to serious side effects such as severe diarrhea and vomiting. Many infants have required medical treatment and hospitalization as a result of their consumption.

nestle good start baby formula

The reason? These omega-3 fatty acids are extracted from fermented algae and soil fungus with the use of a highly explosive neurotoxic petrochemical, hexane.

Formula manufacturers began adding the supplement to mimic the essential fatty acids found in breast milk. These healthy fats are necessary for brain, nerve and eye development.

But here’s the real kicker: unlike their natural counterparts, an analysis of the chemically extracted DHA/ARA supplements found that they provided no such benefit!

The analysis was led by Dr. Karen Simmer, Ph.D. She is an expert in perinatal nutrition and a Professor of Newborn Medicine at the University of Western Australia. After tabulating the results of all clinical trials that were available, the researchers noted that:

“Feeding term infants with milk formula enriched with long ­chain polyunsaturated fatty acids [DHA and ARA] had no proven benefit regarding vision, cognition, or physical growth.”

While the essential fatty acids found in nature provide the benefit… the version that is synthesized in the lab does not. Time and time again, we learn that we just can’t mimic Mother Nature.

And that brings me to our next point about baby formula…

DANGER: Chemicals Masquerading as Nutrients!

Read the nutrition label of any infant formula and you’ll find that it contains 100% percent of the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Now, read the ingredients…

What you’ll find there is a long list of chemical names. You see, the “vitamins and minerals” in commercial baby formulas are not the same vitamins and minerals that are found in whole foods or in breast milk. These impostors are either synthetic or they are an improper form.

These isolated, synthetic “nutrients” don’t behave the way that natural ones do!

We learned this scary truth with the CARET study, which tested synthetic forms of beta carotene and vitamin A in people at high risk for lung cancer. The study was halted when it was discovered that those taking isolated beta carotene (even in a small dose) had much higher rates of lung cancer and mortality than those taking a placebo.

Here’s the rundown of just a few chemicals masquerading as nutrients in infant formula:

  • Calcium Chloride: Classified as an “irritant” by the Dangerous Substance Directive (a law in the European Union concerning chemical safety).
  • Calcium Hydroxide: Known as “slaked lime”. Classified as “corrosive” and an “irritant.”
  • Cupric Sulfate: Used as an herbicide, fungicide and pesticide. Classified as “harmful,” “irritant” and “dangerous to the environment” by the EU Index.
  • Ferrous Sulfate: Byproduct of steel production. Classified by the EU Index as “harmful” and an “irritant.”
  • Manganese Sulfate: Classified by the EU Index as “harmful” and “dangerous for the environment.”
  • Potassium Chloride: Used to produce fertilizer. Used in lethal injections. May cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including ulceration.
  • Potassium Hydroxide: Known as “caustic potash”. Classified by the EU Index as “corrosive” and “harmful.”
  • Sodium Selenite: The Material Safety Data Sheet shows it has the same toxicity as sodium cyanide at just 7 mg/kg in rats. At this level of toxicity, 48 milligrams would kill a 15 lb infant. Listed as “very toxic” and “dangerous for the environment” by the EU.
  • Cyanocobalamin: Common form of vitamin B12 of which contains a cyanide molecule.
  • dl alpha-tocopherol: Petrochemically-derived compound that resembles natural vitamin E – but acts like an endocrine disruptor.

And we are feeding this chemical slurry – including hexane, arsenic, endocrine disruptors, cyanide and more – to nearly 90% of our future generation!

Could the shift away from breastfeeding in the last fifty years correlate with the U.S. having the second highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world… second only to Latvia?

Could the shift away from breastfeeding also contribute to the obesity and disease epidemics we now experience?

I don’t believe it is the sole cause… but it is certainly a contributing factor. And for this reason, Healing Gourmet strongly encourages breastfeeding.

But I Can’t Breastfeed… Now What?

Breast milk – created by Mother Nature’s intelligent design – is undoubtedly the perfect food for infants. There is simply no substitute.

That’s because breast milk isn’t just a combination of vitamins, minerals, fats, carbs and proteins. Rather, it is a living food with a variety of unique and indispensable factors. These include enzymes, immune factors, prebiotics, probiotics, nutrients in their proper form, and hormones that regulate appetite.

In 2003, the WHO and UNICEF published their Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. This directive warned that, “lack of breastfeeding – and especially the lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first half-year of life – are important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality.”

However, unfortunately for some women, breast feeding is just not an option.

So what is the safest alternative?

In our exhaustive research, we have not found a single commercial baby formula that mimics breast milk by providing:

  • Naturally-derived vitamin and minerals from whole food sources that are easily absorbed by the body
  • Healthy fats  in the same ratios of breast milk
  • The proper carbohydrate source – lactose – that promotes gut health by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria

And while no formula can replace the benefits of breast milk, we have found a recipe for homemade baby formula that appears to be the best alternative. Not only does this homemade liver-based formula contain every mineral needed in the proper form, the correct carbohydrate source (lactose), a source of probiotics and the special type of healthy fat that is found in breast milk, but it is also comparable in nutrition to breast milk.

Choosing Foods that are Proven Safe

The issue of breastfeeding is emotionally charged. Many of you have written to express your concerns regarding your previous decision feed formula to your babies. You worry that you may have caused harm to your child. You are angered that the industry – including your trusted healthcare provider – did not alert you to the serious issues raised in this article.

In this day and age of chemical foods, it is imperative that you take responsibility for your own health. You must demand that the foods you eat are proven safe. And you can do this every day by choosing the whole foods diet our ancestors enjoyed and defaulting to the solutions that Mother Nature has given us.

We want to hear from you!

Scroll down to comment on this article and share your experiences.

Editor’s Note: At Healing Gourmet our mission is to help you discover the foods and nutrients that promote health and protect against disease, while alerting you to those that may be harmful. We’ve spent nearly a decade uncovering issues just like this and have revealed them all in our breakthrough health transformation series – The Food Cure.

Click here to learn how you can use delicious foods and nutrients to burn fat, heal your body and enjoy the vibrant longevity you deserve!



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  2. Riordan JM (1997). “The cost of not breastfeeding: a commentary”. J Hum Lact 13 (2): 93–7. DOI:10.1177/089033449701300202. PMID 9233193.
  3. Sadauskaite-Kuehne V, Ludvigsson J, Padaiga Z, Jasinskiene E, Samuelsson U (2004). “Longer breastfeeding is an independent protective factor against development of type 1 diabetes mellitus in childhood”. Diabetes Metab. Res. Rev. 20 (2): 150–7. DOI:10.1002/dmrr.425. PMID 15037991.
  4. Pratt HF (1984). “Breastfeeding and eczema”. Early Hum. Dev. 9 (3): 283–90. DOI:10.1016/0378-3782(84)90039-2. PMID 6734490.
  5. McCann JC, Ames BN (2005). “Is docosahexaenoic acid, an n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, required for development of normal brain function? An overview of evidence from cognitive and behavioral tests in humans and animals”. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 82 (2): 281–95. PMID 16087970.
  6. Kerr, Martha; Désirée Lie (2008). “Neurodevelopmental Delays Associated With Iron-Fortified Formula for Healthy Infants”. Medscape Psychiatry and Mental Health. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  7. Breastfeeding: Some Strategies Used to Market Infant Formula May Discourage Breastfeeding; State Contracts Should Better Protect against Misuse of WIC Name, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  8. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2004 Jan;89:1:37-40. “Soy formula complicates management of congenital hypothyroidism”
  9. Fort P, Moses N, Fasano M, Goldberg T, Lifshitz F. Breast and soy-formula feedings in early infancy and the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in children. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990 Apr;9(2):164-7.
  10. “When should a mother avoid breastfeeding?”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 26, 2006.
  11. “Use of Soy Protein-Based Formulas in Infant Feeding,” Pediatrics, May 2008.
  12. Organic Infant Formula Ingredients Processed with Toxic Chemical
    FDA Reports Indicate Infants Sickened From Algae/Fungal-Based Nutritional Supplements
  13. Replacing Mother – Imitating Human Breast Milk in the Laboratory,Cornicopia Institute
  14. Jackson BP, Taylor VF, Karagas MR, Punshon T, Cottingham KL, 2012 Arsenic, Organic Foods, and Brown Rice Syrup. Environ Health Perspect 120(5): doi:10.1289/ehp.1104619
  15. Jackson, Brian P.; Taylor, Vivien F.; Punshon, Tracy; Cottingha, Kathryn L., Arsenic concentration and speciation in infant formulas and first foods, 1USA; February 1, 2012, Pure and Applied Chemistry, page 9.
  16. JOINT FAO/WHO FOOD STANDARDS PROGRAMME CODEX COMMITTEE ON CONTAMINANTS IN FOODS 5th Session The Hague, The Netherlands, 21 – 25 March 2011, page 20, paragraph 72:
  17. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Safety Evaluation of Certain Contaminants in Food. WHO Food. Additive Series: 63 and FAO JECFA Monographs 8, 2011.
  18. Egon Wildermuth, Hans Stark, Gabriele Friedrich, Franz Ludwig Ebenhöch, Brigitte Kühborth, Jack Silver, Rafael Rituper “Iron Compounds” in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry Wiley-VCH, Wienheim, 2005.
  19. Nutritional Selenium Supplements: Product Types, Quality, and Safety, Gerhard N. Schrauzer, PhD, CNS, FACN
  20. CDC: Breastfeeding Data



5 Responses to Baby Formula SHOCKER: Arsenic, Mercury, Cyanide & Hexane…

  1. Lisa WHite says:

    Regarding the inadequate substitutes for breast milk, yy sister in law adopted a baby at the time I had my 3rd child. I breast fed all of my children and so to give her baby the same benefits, I pumped milk for her baby too, while I nursed mine. My body quickly made enough milk for two and her baby lived on breast milk for almost a year. There are programs in hospitals one can check into to get breast milk for your infant if you cannot nurse them yourself. I would gladly have pumped for a non-relative, and feeding two sure pulled my maternity weight off quickly! ie, there’s a benefit for the lactating party too. :)

  2. The articles are well written and provide specific information but you fail to mention the real problem as exposed in my book The Truth and Conspiracy of the Non-Government-Approved Plan for Health and Longevity. You would be ding your readers a favor to show them where they can get the entire story. Just Google me “Lars Poissonnet”. Keep up the good work and here is to your health and longevity,

  3. Nikki Clarke says:

    Thank you so much for this. As a breastfeeding mother/activist I strive to educate others about the dangers of commercial infant formulas, and the benefits of breastmilk. Babies who cannot receive breastmilk, for whatever reason, deserve better nutrition than what’s currently available. The formula industry has done a grave disservice to it’s littlest customers.

  4. HysonB says:

    Thank you for the excellent and informative article. This may be a little off the topic, but your information regrding arsenic collection in rice plants was an eye opener for me. I use rice almost daily in my meals, so should I avoid commercially produced rice and stick to the organic kind to avoid the arsenic intake? Organic rice is pricey, but it’s worth it when my and my family’s health is concerned. Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

  5. Ann Klein says:

    What would you suggest for a mother who is a genetic carrier of heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, lead, etc.? Since up to 15-20 percent of the population are genetically predisposed to hold on to metals and since these metals are readily passed via the placenta and breast milk, would you still recommend breast feeding? chelation before breast feeding? or (maybe ideally) chelation before conception?

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