Would You Like To Feed Your Baby “Pesticide-Fortified” Food?

Friday, April 16th, 2021

Pesticides are widely used in the agriculture world to improve crop yields and increase the production of food. However, studies have shown that a diet laced with pesticides that are present at levels above the acceptable daily intake (ADI) can lead to more damage than we thought.1 Children and babies are more vulnerable to these adverse effects for 2 main reasons: children tend to eat a limited number of foods, which can increase their exposure to specific pesticides, and children consume more food relative to their body weight than adults.2-3 Children may also absorb pesticides more quickly because of their developing gastrointestinal tract, and their livers may be less capable of breaking down these compounds. Finally, pesticides can block the absorption of nutrients that are vital to healthy growth and development.4

With special protections for babies and infants in mind, the US passed the Food Quality Protection Act over 20 years ago. This act imposes health-based standards for pesticides used in foods.5 While we have since witnessed a dramatic shift, pesticide issues still persist. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presented results from a study in 2016 that revealed glyphosate residues in several types of infant oat cereal.6

Some European regulations specifically address lower levels of pesticides in baby food, which in Europe is defined as infant formula, follow-on formula, processed cereal baby food, other types of baby food and young-child formula. For instance, directive 2006/141/EC sets requirements for infant formula where the maximum residue level (MRL) for pesticides is 0.01 mg/kg. It also bans the use of certain toxic pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and hexachlorobenzene.7-8 Directive 2006/125/EC also sets pesticide MRLs at 0.01 mg/kg for most baby food.

Detecting pesticides at sub-ppb levels in baby food with a highly sensitive LC-MS/MS system

Detecting and quantifying pesticide residues in food remains a moving target. Analytical technologies continue to evolve, but regulations combined with increased community awareness and public perception of pesticides in foods drive lower limits of quantification (LOQ). Food testing represents a challenge not only because of the complexity and diversity of relevant matrices, but also because of the need for low-level pesticide detection.

SCIEX has developed a technical note that details an analytical method for detecting a panel of 209 pesticides in both neat solvent and baby food at the 1 ppb level and below, with a “dilute and shoot” approach using our new SCIEX Triple Quad™ 7500 LC-MS/MS System – QTRAP® Ready.9

Are you interested in reading more about highly sensitive pesticide analysis in baby food? Download a free copy of the technical note on this topic for more details on the method used.


Article by Yip See Chung

1 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S004896971631926X
2 Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, 1993, by National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Commission on Life Sciences, Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, ISBN: 0-309-58535-X
3 https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/abs/10.1289/ehp.99107s3431
4 https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/special_groups_food/children_en
5 https://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/highlights-of-the-food-quality-protection-act-of-1996.html
6 What’s New with the Pesticide Residue Program in the FDA? Chris A. Sack, Food and Drug Administration, Kansas City District Office
8 https://www.pan-europe.info/old/Archive/About%20pesticides/Banned%20and%20authorised.htm
9 KC Hyland et al. Highly sensitive pesticide analysis in baby food: Using the SCIEX Triple Quad™ 7500 LC-MS/MS System – QTRAP® Ready, powered by SCIEX OS Software. SCIEX, RUO-MKT-02-11958-B. https://www.sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/tech-notes/food-beverage/food-and-beverage/highly-sensitive-pesticide-analysis-in-baby-food.html