No, there aren’t metal shards in baby oatmeal

By: Siri Christiansen
March 21 2024

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
No, there aren’t metal shards in baby oatmeal

TikTok video claiming to show metal shards in baby porridge. Source: TikTok/Screenshot (Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The "metal shards" are food-grade iron particles used to fortify products like baby porridge.

Claim ID 5c76d8a4

The claim

A video on TikTok (archived here) published with over 11 million views claims that there are shards of metal in baby food.

The video shows a person placing Gerber brand baby oatmeal in a plastic bag and rubbing it with a strong magnet, which causes small black specks of magnetic material to move around inside the bag: “As you can see, there are tonnes of little shards of metal inside this baby oatmeal,” the person narrates.

However, they aren’t metal shards.

The facts

Gerber’s infant oatmeal, like many other brands, is fortified with iron and other essential vitamins and minerals. One serving of Gerber infant cereal provides 6.75 milligrams of iron. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended daily intake for infants between six and 12 months of age is 11 milligrams per day. Breakfast cereals are fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiencies, a practice that dates back to the 1940s. Iron deficiency in babies can cause cognitive and developmental concerns. The iron used in breakfast cereals are food-grade particles digested in the stomach. 

Poking around in your fortified cereal with a magnet is a popular science experiment for children. According to BBC Science Focus, the experiment is usually done by mixing crushed breakfast cereal with water in a sealable plastic bag and running a magnet over it, causing the iron particles to move toward the magnet.

As evident from the Science Focus video, the lumped-together iron picked up by the magnet closely resembles those from the viral TikTok video.

Screenshot from TikTok video showing the iron particles. Source: TikTok (Modified by Logically Facts)

Dr. Stuart Farrimond, a medical doctor and award-winning science author, confirmed to Logically Facts that the objects in the TikTok video are not sharp shavings of metal.

"Instead, they are a highly purified, food-grade 'elemental’ iron powder, produced through a process called electrolysis. This iron has the silvery color of pure iron and resembles iron filings because the tiny, powdered particles tend to clump together along the magnetic field lines of the magnet held above them,” Dr. Farrimond said. “This clumping is simply a visual effect of the iron's magnetic properties and does not affect its safety or nutritional value. It is perfectly safe for consumption, and its use is highly regulated.”

Cecilia Stenberg, a project manager at a resource center for chemist teachers at Stockholm University, told Logically Facts that the iron oxide used to fortify food is dissolved by the stomach acid to form the iron ions the body needs.

“If a magnet is used to detect the iron powder, it forms lines which can make it look like shards,” she said.

The verdict

The “metal shards” are food-grade iron particles used in baby oatmeal to support healthy baby development. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

Read this fact-check in:

English , Svenska

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before