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The Food and Drug Administration proposed new limits Tuesday on lead in baby food, in an effort to reduce exposure to a toxin that can impair childhood development.

The lead limits apply to processed food consumed by children younger than two years old. In a statement, FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said the limits would reduce lead exposure from these foods by as much as 27%.

The proposed lead limits are not legally binding on the industry, but the FDA said it would use them as a factor in deciding whether to take enforcement action against a company for selling contaminated food.

The agency proposed the following lead concentration limits for baby food:

  • 10 parts per billion for fruits, vegetables, yoghurts, custards and puddings, mixtures, and single ingredient meats. This would reduce exposure by 26%.
  • 20 parts per billion for root vegetables. This would reduce exposure by 27%.
  • 20 parts per billion for dry cereals. This would reduce exposure by 24%.
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