Gerber is one of the most popular baby food brands on the market, which is why it is troubling that United States government reports indicate several of the company’s products contain “dangerous levels” of toxic heavy metals.
In light of these findings, you may assume that recalls on these products have been issued in order to avoid harming innocent children and families. Unfortunately, despite the danger posed to babies and toddlers, Gerber has yet to issue a baby food recall related to arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in its products. Numerous studies have found statistically significant links between exposure to toxic heavy metals and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
No Gerber Recall for Heavy Metals in Baby Food
Gerber has chosen not to recall any of its baby foods due to heavy metal toxicity. Gerber and several other major baby food brands have set dangerously high internal standards for the maximum allowable levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Shockingly, Gerber and others routinely ignore their own safety standards and sell products they know to be tainted with dangerously high levels of heavy metals.
Below, you will find information about just how high the levels of arsenic and other heavy metals have been found in Gerber baby foods.
Toxic Heavy Metals in Gerber Baby Foods
According to research conducted by the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy and the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Gerber regularly used flour that tested above 90 parts per billion (ppb) arsenic. In fact, the report stated that Gerber chose to use five batches of rice flour with over 98 ppb arsenic, and 67 batches with over 90 ppb arsenic.
For context, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the standard for arsenic in drinking water at 10 ppb. According to the Agency, when levels of arsenic exceed this standard, human health may be impacted.
It is important to note that earlier this year, Beech-Nut, another baby food company, issued a baby food recall after government officials in Alaska detected high levels of arsenic in food products. The Alaska officials also tested Gerber baby foods and found even higher levels of arsenic than the amount that prompted the Beech-Nut recall. In a second baby food report issued in September, the Subcommittee noted that while Beech-Nut issued a recall, Gerber “has taken no such action to protect consumers.”
The government report states that Gerber chose to include conventional sweet potatoes in their products that were found to contain as high as 48 ppb lead, and also used 12 other batches of sweet potato with more than 20 ppb lead.
On average, most of Gerber’s juice concentrates tested positive for 11.2 ppb lead, which is higher than the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) threshold in bottled water. More than 83% of Gerber’s juice concentrates displayed test results higher than 1 ppb lead. In fruit juices, Consumer Reports recommends that lead levels should not exceed 1 ppb.
For reference, the EPA has set a standard that lead levels in drinking water must not exceed 15 ppb. If water samples are found to contain more than 15 ppb lead, the Agency requires that action be taken to mitigate the contamination.
At least 75% of Gerber’s carrots tested positive for cadmium at levels higher than 5 ppb. In fact, some carrots were contaminated with up to 87 ppb cadmium.
To better understand what that means, the EPA has set the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for cadmium at 5 ppb. They state the reason why the MCL has been set at 5 ppb is that current technology and resources in our water systems can be reasonably expected to eliminate this contaminant from occurring in drinking water. This shows that the EPA doesn’t expect people to actually ingest that amount of cadmium, because it is assumed that the contaminants are removed during the water filtration process.
Unfortunately, Gerber chooses not to test the vast majority of its products for mercury. However, the company does test the following ingredients for the toxicant:
- Sweet potatoes
- Lemon juice concentrate
The government report does not provide the test results for mercury within Gerber’s products.
Baby Food Industry Self-Regulation Is a Problem
As it stands, the baby food industry largely regulates itself. Baby food manufacturers have the authority to choose whether or not to test their own products for toxic heavy metals. According to consumer attorney Pedram Esfandiary, the FDA has been largely absent in regulating toxic metals in baby foods. “The FDA is standing idly by and giving companies the freedom to knowingly sell tainted food,” he says. “The science clearly shows how dangerous these toxic metals can be for babies and young children, so it is well past the time for action on this issue.”
An Example of Why Self-Regulation Is Ineffective
The U.S. government report provides a good example of why this approach does not work for consumers. The FDA decided to release draft guidance regarding apple juice but did not identify any other fruit juices in the release.
Based on these test results, baby food companies are allowed to exceed the draft limit of 10 ppb arsenic in other types of fruit juices that are regularly consumed.
For instance, Gerber included grape juice concentrate in their products after it tested at 39 ppb inorganic arsenic. “But because it was grape juice, as opposed to apple juice—which, from a safety perspective, is a distinction without a difference—Gerber incorporated in its products juice concentrate with high arsenic levels.”
Self-Regulation Allows for Skewed Test Results
When companies are allowed to regulate themselves, it allows for holes in the test results. While Gerber tests their unprocessed ingredients for toxic heavy metals, they fail to test their finished products for contaminants. In fact, this is their company policy.
This means that the amount of toxic heavy metals contained in their products may be much higher than what the test results of the ingredients alone display.
Baby Food Lawyers Can Help
It is completely reasonable to expect that the FDA-approved food you purchase for your little one is safe and healthy. You may be devastated to learn that you’ve been feeding your child food that contains toxic heavy metals. Concerningly, companies like Gerber knowingly sell products with high levels of heavy metals and refuse to issue a baby food recall.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD or ADHD after regularly consuming contaminated baby food, we want to help your family seek justice in a baby food lawsuit. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm right away with any questions you may have. We are ready and willing to do everything we can to help you.