Founded in 2019 based on research from Canadian neurosurgeon Dr. Teresa Purzner, Cerebelly is seeking to disrupt the $55bn baby food industry with veggie-first baby products that contain up to 19 critical nutrients that support optimal brain development, according to the company.
"Healthy brain development isn't just about what is inside the food we eat - it's also what's NOT inside. There is extremely clear science demonstrating the negative impacts that heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium) can have on a developing brain," said Dr. Purzner, MD, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Cerebelly.
Baby food and heavy metals
The industry call for baby food free from harmful metals came into the spotlight last week when a report released by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy in the House of Representatives raised alarm bells about heavy metals in products manufactured by major baby food brands.
While the FDA has established a 100ppb threshold for inorganic arsenic for infant rice cereals, it has not set thresholds for other heavy metals and contaminants including lead, mercury, or cadmium in infant foods.
The Clean Label Project, an independent non-profit which has set new standards for food safety and quality by testing products across several CPG categories by testing for the presence of heavy metals, plasticizers, pesticide residues, and other contaminants, has conducted its own research into baby food products.
In its report, The Clean Label Project conducted a study of over 530 baby and toddler food products including formulas, cereals, jars, pouches, juices, drinks, and snacks, and found that lead was detectable (equal to or above 4 ppb) in 36% of products, cadmium was found in 58% of products, arsenic was detected in 65% of products tested, and the plasticizer BPA was found (equal to or above 40ppb in 60% of products claiming to be "BPA-free."
Purity Award standards
As the most recent baby food brand to receive the Purity Award (other baby food brands including Fresh Bellies, Tiny Human Food, Once Upon a Farm, and Serenity Kids have received the award), Cerebelly had to test below the ≤4 ppb threshold for heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury) as well as other contaminants such as acrylamide (≤40 ppb) and BPA, BPS (≤40 ppb) in all of its products.
"Cerebelly is disrupting the baby food industry by voluntarily and proactively thinking about nutrition and food safety differently," said Jaclyn Bowen, MPH, MS, food safety quality and systems engineer and executive director of Clean Label Project.
"Their Clean Label Project Purity Award-winning products are a testament to their level of commitment and rigor into scrutinizing ingredient quality and purity."
As part of maintaining its Purity Award status, all companies must undergo random and unannounced sampling of their products.