Government Slams Baby Food Manufactures For Not Doing Enough to Protect Babies from Harmful Heavy Metals
A Congressional Subcommittee says major baby food manufacturers continue to knowingly sell products that contain high levels of toxic heavy metals. In a new report, the Subcommittee called out one particular manufacturer as perhaps “the most reckless among baby food manufacturers” for its lax heavy metals testing.
Earlier this year, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Committee on Oversight and Reform released a shocking report titled, “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury.” The Subcommittee report detailed dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals linked to autism (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in baby foods manufactured the following major brands:
- Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
- Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic)
- Nurture, Inc. (Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY)
The February 2021 report’s key findings:
- Baby food products contained 177 times more than the acceptable level of lead, up to 91 times more than the acceptable level of arsenic, up to 69 times more than the acceptable level of cadmium, and up to 5 times more than the acceptable level of mercury.
- Ingredients used in baby food products exceeded the companies’ internal standards for heavy metals levels.
- Many of the baby food companies do not test their finished products for heavy metals. Instead, they rely primarily on tests of ingredients in isolation. This failure consistently leads to underestimates of the levels of heavy metals in finished products sold on shelves.
The report also noted that three other major baby food manufacturers failed to comply with the Subcommittee’s request for documents and information on heavy metals. The Subcommittee expressed concern about whether Parent’s Choice (Walmart), Plum Organics (previously owned by Campbell Soup, now owned by Sun-Maid), and Sprout Food, Inc. (now owned by Canadian cannabis company Neptune Wellness Solutions) “might be obscuring the presence of even higher levels of toxic heavy metals in their baby food products than their competitors’ products.”
According to the second baby food report issued on September 29, 2021, the Subcommittee had reason to be concerned.
Parent’s Choice, Plum Organics, and Sprout Foods Knowingly Sell Baby Foods with Dangerously High Levels of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury
Parent’s Choice, Plum Organics, and Sprout Foods started cooperating with the Subcommittee to varying degrees after the first baby food report came out in February of 2021. The heavy metals testing Plum Organics provided confirmed the Subcommittee’s concerns about the danger of some of its products. Additionally, the documentation Walmart provided revealed a “concerning lack of attention to toxic heavy metal levels in baby food and an abandonment of its previously more protective standards.” Lastly, Sprout provided documentation that displayed a lax approach to testing for toxic heavy metals in its baby foods. According to the report, “Sprout’s testing practices appear to be the most reckless among baby food manufacturers.”
Heavy Metals in Parent’s Choice (Walmart) Baby Food
According to the second baby food report, between 2012 and 2018, Walmart set an internal maximum of 23 ppb for inorganic arsenic in its finished baby foods. In 2018, however, the company took a drastic step backward on food safety by changing its policy to allow 100 ppb inorganic arsenic in its baby foods. Per the report, Walmart offered no justification for quadrupling its internal standard for inorganic arsenic in baby food products. As for cadmium and mercury, the company does not have any testing standards, nor does it require cadmium or mercury testing.
Heavy Metals in Plum Organics Baby Food
Plum Organics sent the following internal documentation to the Subcommittee:
- Arsenic: Between 2017 and 2019, 100% of Plum’s Super Puff rice-based products tested at or above 200 parts per billion (ppb) arsenic. Plum Organics products tested up to 470 ppb arsenic, and up to 225 ppb inorganic arsenic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows a maximum level of 10 ppb arsenic in bottled water.
- Cadmium: Between 2017 and 2019, 38.3% of Plum Organics products tested above 5 ppb cadmium, the maximum amount FDA allows in bottled water.
- Lead: Between 2017 and 2019, 54.5% of Plum Organics products tested above 5 ppb lead, the maximum amount that FDA allows in bottled water.
Heavy Metals in Sprout Baby Foods
Sprout Foods, Inc. uses ingredient-only testing, which means the finished products sold on shelves are untested for toxic heavy metals. The report also said Sprout does not conduct its own heavy metals testing. It instead relies on ingredient suppliers to conduct ingredient testing for toxic heavy metals. Shockingly, the company only asks for this heavy metals testing once per year.
“Based on the Subcommittee’s study of the baby food industry, the testing practices of Sprout appear to be the most reckless among baby foods sellers on the market.”
Beech-Nut and Gerber Again Called Out in Second Baby Food Report
Beech-Nut announced a recall for some of its baby food products this summer after public health officials in Alaska detected the high levels of toxic metals in Beech-Nut products and Gerber products. In the same announcement, Beech-Nut stated that the company would no longer sell infant rice cereal.
According to the second baby food report, the test results for both Beech-Nut and Gerber products (which were not publicly disclosed before or after the Beech-Nut recall), revealed dangerously high levels of inorganic arsenic in other Beech-Nut infant rice cereal products that the company did not recall. Per the report, Beech-Nut’s recall “appears to have been incomplete.”
The testing also showed that Gerber infant rice cereal tested up to 116 ppb inorganic arsenic. The average Gerber rice cereal product tested at 87.43 ppb inorganic arsenic, an amount greater than Beech-Nut’s average rice cereal product. While Beech-Nut issued a recall for some of its products and pulled out of the infant rice cereal market, Gerber “has taken no such actions to protect consumers,” the report states.
Government Investigation Continues to Reveal Dangerous Levels of Toxic Metals
The Subcommittee’s investigation, which now includes two reports issued over the last seven months, demonstrates that baby foods from several leading brands contain dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. These toxic metals pose serious health risks to our most vulnerable: babies and toddlers.
One of the most shocking parts of this investigation is that manufacturers knowingly sell these tainted products to unsuspecting parents. They continue to ignore their own internal standards and test results, and willingly sell foods without warning labels alerting parents to the presence of toxic levels of heavy metals.
“Both of these reports make it clear: these companies do not care about the safety of babies. They have poisoned countless children and, as the second report demonstrates, are apparently content to continue doing so if it means profits keep going up,” says Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorney Pedram Esfandiary. “The FDA and Congress needs to take decisive action here because we’ve known for a long time that left to their own devices, these companies will not regulate themselves. They will continue to willingly sell toxic food.”
“This is an avoidable problem that these companies knew about and they didn’t do anything to fix it,” says Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorney R. Brent Wisner. “This is cut and dry corporate malfeasance.”
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman Filing Toxic Baby Food Lawsuits
The national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman represents hundreds of parents throughout the nation in lawsuits against baby food manufacturers named in the new report. Our attorneys are outraged that baby food manufacturers negligently sell products with dangerously high levels of toxic metals, and the firm intends to hold them accountable for their recklessness.
Why choose us to represent your interests in a toxic baby food lawsuit?
- Recognized as Top Plaintiff Lawyers
- Strong Reputation for Successfully Litigating Against Some of the Largest Companies in the World
- Ceaseless Advocacy to Protect Consumers From Harmful Products
- Won $2.055 Billion Verdict in Personal Injury Case, the Second-Largest Personal Injury Verdict in the Nation in 2019, and the Ninth-Largest Personal Injury Verdict in American History. (The judge later reduced the verdict to $87 million.)