High Levels of Lead Found in Some Veggie Puff Snacks

By: David Donovan | Published: Jun 06, 2024

Concerning levels of lead have been found in some veggie puff snacks made by Lesser Evil and Serenity Kids according to Consumer Reports.

The heavy metal lead has been connected to developmental and other types of disabilities in children.

Healthy Alternative Marketing

Veggie puffs are popular with some parents who try to make foods such as carrots, tomatoes, and beets more tasty and appealing for their kids.

A farmers market with a variety of produce on sale as people buy and sell produce.

Unsplash user Sinitta Leunen

However, cassava-based brands have been discovered to contain extreme levels of lead and other heavy metals the advocacy group has warned consumers.


Cause for Concern

Consumer Reports found concerning levels of lead in both products tested from Lesser Evil and one product from Serenity Kids.

A presentation for Consumer Reports, there is a speaker and several people watching with a camera recording the presentation.

X user ConsumerReports

Their findings have cautioned that even a single serving from these products could prove to be damaging.

Large Test Group

Since 2017 the advocacy group has tested over 80 baby foods and did not find any of them contained more lead than one product.

A collection of products from Lesser Evil propped on a park bench outdoors.

Wikimedia Commons user Danasmith11

The Intergalactic Voyager Veggie Blend puffs contained more lead per serving compared to any of the other baby foods they have tested.

Limiting Quantities

According to the head of food safety testing at Consumer Reports, James E. Rogers: “We think kids should consume less than half a serving a day of those.”

People holding up bags of Paleo Puffs outside on a sunny day

X user LesserEvilSnack

The other two products that were tested, Lesser Evil’s Lil’ Puffs Sweet Potato Apple Asteroid and Serenity Kids’ Tomato & Herb Bone Broth puffs contained high enough lead levels for the group to advise consuming only 1.5 servings a day.

Problems with Rice Snacks

According to tests made by the Consumer Reports group, puffs and similar snacks that are rice-based can be found to contain high levels of arsenic.

Unprocessed tubers of cassava root

Wikimedia Commons user David Monniaux

When this was discovered many manufacturers switched to using other forms of starches such as the root cassava or the gluten-free grain sorghum.


Sorghum Products Safer?

In another analysis by Consumer Reports two products from Once Upon a Farm, the company co-founded by Jennifer Garner, were tested.

Sorghum harvest at the shores of Lake Hayq, Ethiopia

Radosław Botev

It was found that the sorghum-based products were found to contain very low levels of lead, some of the lowest in all baby foods tested by the advocacy groups.


Worries About Cassava Foods

According to Rogers: “Clearly, some manufacturers need to do a better job of keeping heavy metals out of their snack foods.”

Spreading Casabe burrero (cassava bread) to dry, Venezuela

Wikimedia Commons user Jaimeluisgg

He went on to say “There may be some particular concerns about foods made with cassava”, hinting at the potential need for further study.


Parents Speak Out

In an interview with CBS, mother Macarena Rizzo voiced her worries over feeding veggie puffs to her children.

Veggie Sticks in a mesh tote bag with some taken out of the bag in a bowl nearby

X user LesserEvilSnack

Speaking with Anna Werner she said she was: “Very, like, disappointed because I thought that I was making a good choice or like a smart choice, and it seems like it’s not.”


Long Term Impacts

While there isn’t a cause for immediate concern for parents who have given their children cassava-based snacks there could be long term implications for their health.

Cassava leaves sprouting from the plant

Wikimedia Commons user mrjohncummings

In the amounts of lead found by Consumer Reports, it is possible that the risk of developmental problems such as lower IQ, ADHD, and autism could be raised over long-term consumption of these products.


Awareness of Lead Intake

Rogers warned parents about the need to “account for the fact that small amounts of lead can add up and that children may be exposed to some lead in drinking water or their environment.”

Refined lead nodules and a lead cube

Wikimedia Commons user Alchemist-hp

He stressed in terms of monitoring children’s food intake, “that’s why foods with more lead should be minimized in a child’s diet.”


Statements from Companies

Both Lesser Evil and Serenity Kids claim that their products are in line with federal and state guidelines when it comes to testing their products.

Sweet Potato Pie cold-pressed framed on top of cut sweet potatoes

X user onceuponafarm

Even though Once Upon a Farm contained some of the lowest levels of lead they did make a statement explaining to consumers that it is “virtually impossible” to avoid heavy metals in the environment.

With product recalls for salmonella outbreaks in potatoes and cucumbers on many Americans’ minds, consumers may be becoming more cautious about what they and their children are consuming.