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China to impose stricter limits on infant foods

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China's health authority said Sunday the country would impose stricter and more scientific safe limits on toxic metals including arsenic, lead and cadmium in complementary baby foods in the future after scientists voices concern over the risks of the presence of these toxic elements.

Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Sunday that China enforces stricter limits on toxic metals including arsenic, lead and cadmium in grain baby foods than the standards set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).

The CAC did not set limits on arsenic and lead in complementary grain foods intended for infants, while China allows 200 micrograms of each of these two elements per kilogram in the products, according to the center.

Further, both the CAC and China have not set limits on cadmium in baby products, but China allows 0.2 microgram of cadmium per kilogram in rice, which is the major raw material for baby foods. The CAC limit for rice is 0.4 microgram per kilogram, it said.

China's Ministry of Health has entrusted the center and a food safety expert panel under the ministry to conduct researches and review on the impact of the presence of these metals on the infants' health.

The center said China would work out even stricter and more scientific safe limits on toxic metals and other contaminants in baby foods to ensure healthy physical conditions of the young.

The United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph reported earlier this month that toxic contaminants including arsenic, lead and cadmium have been found in baby foods in name brands such as Nestle and Hipp, citing research results from scientists of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden

Although none of the levels of the toxic elements found in the foods exceeded official safety limits, the researchers believe they are still of concern if fed to very young children and have demanded new guidelines to restrict their presence in food, according to the report.

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