The scientists are at odds with the FSA, whose recent study on toxicity concluded there was no cause for concern.
Scientists are defying government experts to warn that babies are being exposed to high levels of aluminium in formula milk, which they claim could damage their health.
Professor Christopher Exley and colleagues from Keele University have looked at the aluminium content of 30 brands of formula milk and say it is too high. Their study follows a similar survey they carried out in 2010, which was limited to 15 products. In the interim, they say, manufacturers have done nothing to reduce the amounts of the chemical to which babies are exposed. They claim aluminium is linked to cancer and Alzheimer's disease in later life.
The scientists are at odds with the Food Standards Agency, the government advisory body on safety. Its committee on toxicity recently looked at aluminium in formula milk and concluded there was no cause for concern.
Their independent experts "concluded that the estimated exposures of infants to aluminium from the dietary sources did not indicate toxicological concerns or a need for a change in government advice," said an FSA spokesman.
Exley does not agree, arguing that the committee's experts relied on an arbitrary standard based on a limited number of animal studies, which he described as meaningless. He said: "Since we are one of the leading groups, if not the leading group, working on aluminium and human health in the world, you might think our opinion would have some meaning for organisations like the FSA. Unfortunately the FSA is another arm of the government and the government is not going to do or say anything which might upset industry and the aluminium industry in particular."
"It is the attitude of government which is preventing any legislation in relation to exposure to aluminium and human health and this attitude fosters complacency within industry, in this case infant formula manufacturers, allowing them to do nothing about the potential time bomb which is our burgeoning exposure to aluminium."
His team argues that aluminium in baby milk should be reduced to the lowest possible level. In the study, published by BMC Paediatrics , they draw up a league table of formula milk by aluminium content. They found that two soya milk brands had the highest content, but SMA toddler milk and Hipp Organic first infant milk also had high levels. Among ready-to-drink types, SMA toddler milk had the lowest concentration, followed by Hipp Organic first infant milk, Aptamil hungry baby milk, SMA first infant milk and Aptamil first milk.
The growing up milks produced by Cow and Gate and Aptamil had the highest concentrations, with Aptamil toddler milk having almost three times as much aluminium as SMA toddler milk. For powdered milks, Hipp Organic growing up milk had the lowest level, followed by Aptamil hungry, Aptamil first milk and Hipp Organic follow-on milk.
Aluminium is also found in tap water and in breast milk, although the concentration is significantly lower.A spokeswoman for SMA said: "We would like to reassure parents that all SMA infant formula is safe.
"Aluminium occurs naturally in the environment and is present in many fruits, vegetables, packaged foods, beverages and water. We take every
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