Brief Summary: In 2021, a Congressional subcommittee report found dangerously high amounts of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in Earth’s Best Organic baby food, and products from several other brands. According to the U.S. government, Hain Celestial, which manufactures products under the Earth’s Best Organic brand, knowingly sells baby foods loaded with toxic heavy metals linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Other brands have issued baby food recalls over heavy metals. As of this writing, however, there has not been an Earth’s Best Organic recall over heavy metals.
What We Are Saying: “The scientific literature is clear: numerous studies have found statistically significant links between exposure to heavy metals among young children and neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD and ADHD. Our lawsuit alleges that Hain knows that the high levels of heavy metals in Earth’s Best Organic baby foods are harmful to babies and infants, in particular. Despite knowing about the dangers, the company continues to bury its head in the sand, refusing to take responsibility for harming children. We intend to hold them accountable for their reprehensible conduct and ensure they are punished for permanently damaging the wellbeing of our clients.” – Baby Food Lawyer Pedram Esfandiary
What You Can Do: Parents from across the country are making the decision to file an Earth’s Best Organic lawsuit to hold the manufacturer accountable for harming their child. If your son or daughter was diagnosed with autism or ADHD after consuming Hain Celestial baby food, you may be eligible to join an Earth’s Best Organic lawsuit to recover damages, including expensive therapies, loss of income, and other compensation. The baby food lawyers at Baum Hedlund have a case pending in California alleging Hain Celestial and several other companies knowingly sell products with dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Learn more below.
Earth’s Best Organic Baby Food Lawsuit InformationWho Owns Earth’s Best Organic?
Hain Celestial Group, Inc. owns and sells baby food products under the Earth’s Best Organic brand. Brothers Ron Koss and Arnie Koss founded Earth’s Best Organic, one of the country’s first organic food companies, in 1985. Hain Celestial purchased Earth’s Best in 2000. Today, the company offers numerous food options, including Earth’s Best baby formula, baby food purees, pouches, and toddler foods ranging from organic infant cereal to organic snacks for toddlers and kids on the go.
No. Earth’s Best Organic baby foods contain dangerous amounts of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, according to a government report.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, Committee on Oversight and Reform, published a report in February of 2021. Hain, the maker of Earth’s Best Organic formulas and baby foods, was one of only four brands to cooperate with the Subcommittee by submitting heavy metals testing results and internal policies.
The report, titled “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury,” found arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury present in “significant levels” in numerous commercial baby food products, including Earth’s Best baby foods.
Per the report, Hain Celestial and other major baby food companies “knowingly” sell purees, infant rice cereal, and snack puffs that contain dangerous amounts of toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.
Hain told government officials involved in the baby food report that the company only tests its ingredients, not finished baby food products. Nevertheless, documents show that Earth’s Best Organic ingredients tested at exceedingly high levels of:
Arsenic: Hain used ingredients that tested as high as 309 parts per billion (ppb) arsenic.
Lead: Hain used ingredients containing as much as 352 ppb lead. A total of 88 Earth’s Best Organic products tested over 20 ppb lead and six tested over 200 ppb lead.
Cadmium: Hain used 102 ingredients in its Earth’s Best Organic baby food products that tested over 20 ppb cadmium. Some tested much higher, up to 260 ppb cadmium.
Mercury: Hain does not even test for mercury in baby food. Independent testing from Happy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) found Earth’s Best Organic baby foods contain as much as 2.4 ppb of mercury.
These levels are far more than the allowable limits for drinking water set by U.S. regulatory agencies. The U.S. FDA allowable limits for bottled water are 10 ppb inorganic arsenic, 5 ppb lead, and 5 ppb cadmium. The U.S. EPA allows 2 ppb mercury in drinking water.
It is important to remember that these limits were created in reference to adult exposure, not infants. Compared to these thresholds, the test results of Earth’s Best Organic baby foods are staggeringly greater than the permittable levels for drinking water.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the government baby food report is that Hain set internal limits for the presence of heavy metals that were dangerously high, and then routinely failed to abide by their own inadequate standards. For example, according to the government report, Hain set an internal standard of 200 ppb for arsenic, lead, and cadmium in some of its ingredients. Nevertheless, Hain routinely exceeded its internal policies, using ingredients containing 309 ppb arsenic and 353 ppb lead. Hain justified these deviations based on “theoretical calculations,” even after admitting to FDA that its testing underestimated final product toxic heavy metal levels.
The Subcommittee reported that Hain underestimates toxic heavy metal levels in Earth’s Best Organic baby foods 100% of the time. Additionally, the Subcommittee found that actual finished-product testing showed that arsenic levels were between 28% and 93% higher in the finished Earth’s Best products than Hain’s estimations for arsenic levels based on ingredient testing. Read more about baby foods to avoid in our blog.
“Hain’s recklessness and callous disregard for the health of young children is truly staggering. The company could have and should have made it a priority to source safer ingredients and carefully screen their products to ensure that kids are safe from harmful toxic metals. They instead decided that profit was more important. .” – Baby Food Lawyer Pedram Esfandiary
The government baby food report from 2021 did not implicate Earth’s Best formula products for high amounts of heavy metals. According to testing conducted by Happy Babies Bright Futures, the Earth’s Best Organic Sensitivity – DHR/ARA Infant Formula (Organic Milk-Based Powder with Iron) showed measurable heavy metal content (4.4 ppb arsenic, 1.6 ppb lead, 1.4 ppb cadmium, and .2 ppb mercury) . The levels of heavy metals found in the Earth’s Best Organic formula were within the allowable levels for bottled water.
Babies and toddlers are small, so they absorb more heavy metals when compared to adults. Also, because their organs are still developing, their risk from exposure to heavy metals is exacerbated.
Children who are exposed to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead run the risk of suffering from permanent decreases in IQ and decreases in future economic productivity. Heavy metals exposure at a young age can also lead to increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior.
Linda McCauley, who serves as the Dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, notes that “[n]o level of exposure to these metals has been shown to be safe in vulnerable infants.”
According to a 2014 study, babies and toddlers are “exceptionally sensitive to injury caused by toxic chemicals, and several developmental processes have been shown to be highly vulnerable to chemical toxicity.” The same study reported that exposure to heavy metals in early childhood can lead to “untreatable and frequently permanent” brain damage, which may result in “reduced intelligence, as expressed in terms of lost IQ points, or disruption in behavior.”
Another study estimates that exposure to toxic metals is associated with over 40 million total IQ points loss in 25.5 million children, which translates to roughly 1.57 lost IQ points per child, more than preterm birth, brain tumors, and traumatic brain injury combined. It is estimated that a child’s lifetime earning capacity decreases by $18,000 for every IQ point lost.
In our baby food lawsuit against Earth’s Best Organic manufacturer Hain Celestial and other companies, we have four expert witnesses that prepared reports detailing the dangers of heavy metals for babies and infants. You can read the expert reports below:
Manufacturers use questionable ingredients sourcing practices. Since the baby food report came out in 2021, baby food manufacturers have said repeatedly that heavy metals in baby foods are a byproduct of the manufacturing process. That is not the whole story, however, as evidenced by the fact that numerous baby food products on store shelves do not contain arsenic, lead, cadmium, or mercury that come close to the levels observed in the government report.
Companies are able to manufacture baby foods and eliminate or at least drastically reduce heavy metals by using alternative ingredients, not adding certain pre-mix minerals that have high levels of heavy metals, or sampling their ingredients from other sources.
In August 2019, Hain held a closed-door meeting with the FDA. During this meeting, Hain reportedly delivered a presentation to FDA officials acknowledging that heavy metals in baby food is a problem, and that the company should look for alternative ingredients to reduce the risk. In a series of PowerPoint slides presented during the meeting, Hain confirmed that some of the ingredients in Earth’s Best Organic baby foods contain between 108 to 129 ppb of arsenic. Hain specifically noted the following: “Preliminary investigation indicates Vitamin/Mineral Pre-Mix may be a major contributing factor.”
Another PowerPoint slide noted that the company should: “[e]xplore alternatives for Brown Rice ingredient to reduce risk.”
According to the U.S. government’s 2021 baby food report, Hain does not routinely test its finished baby food products for heavy metals. When the company did test small sample of finished product, Hain found 129 ppb inorganic arsenic in Earth’s Best baby food products.
While the company does not test its finished baby food products like snack puffs, purees, rice cereal, and others, Hain does test several ingredients used in Earth’s Best Organic foods. The baby food report found the following ingredients contained high levels of toxic metals:
Organic Brown Rice Flour – 309 ppb arsenic
Vitamin Pre-Mix – 223 ppb arsenic, 60.5 ppb cadmium, 352 ppb lead
Organic Whole Wheat Fine Flour – 160 ppb cadmium, 250 ppb lead
Organic Whole Raisins – 200 ppb arsenic
Organic Soft White Wheat Flour – 200 ppb arsenic
Organic Spelt Flour – 190 ppb arsenic
Organic Barley Malt Extract – 180 ppb arsenic
Organic Yellow Split Pea Powder – 160 ppb arsenic
Organic Barley Flour 120 ppb arsenic, 230 ppb lead
IQF Organic Chopped Broccoli – 250 ppb cadmium
Organic Oat Flakes – 130 ppb cadmium
Medium Grain Whole Rice – 150 ppb arsenic
Organic Butternut Squash Puree – 130 ppb arsenic
Organic Blueberry Puree – 120 ppb arsenic
Organic Barley Flour – 120 ppb arsenic
Organic Cinnamon Powder – 110 ppb arsenic, 200 ppb cadmium, 230 ppb lead
Organic Quick Oats – 230 ppb lead
Organic Date Paste – 190 ppb cadmium, 220 ppb lead
Organic Red Lentils – 130 ppb cadmium
Organic Brown Flax Milled – 190 ppb cadmium
Organic Yellow Papaya Puree – 170 ppb cadmium
As of June of 2022, there has not been an Earth’s Best Organic recall for baby food or baby formula due to heavy metals. The last Earth’s Best Organic recall was in 2007 when the company found that two product lines had been contaminated with clostridium botulinum, which can cause severe food poisoning.
Parents may be eligible to file a lawsuit against Hain Celestial, Inc. and/or other baby food companies if their child developed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) after consuming substantial quantities of Earth’s Best Organic baby foods.
To join the Earth’s Best Organic lawsuit, the first thing a potential claimant needs to do is contact a baby food lawyer for a case evaluation. Most law firms taking on the baby food companies like Hain, Gerber, Walmart, and others offer free and confidential case evaluations.
At Baum Hedlund, our process for determining whether you qualify for an Earth’s Best lawsuit is very simple:
- Call our office or fill out our contact form and one of our representatives will send you a case evaluation form to complete.
- Fill out the baby food case evaluation. Our form takes most parents about 15 -20 minutes to complete.
- Once we receive your case evaluation, our legal team reviews your potential case. If you meet the criteria, we will contact you to let you know that you qualify for a case. At that time, we can answer any questions you may have about filing a case.
This is a difficult question to answer. The value of a case is determined by a person’s claims for damages. Damages in an Earth’s Best Organic lawsuit (or lawsuits against other baby food companies listed in the 2021 government report) are calculated based on (among other things):
- Money spent on health care bills related to your child’s diagnosis or diagnoses (this includes money already spent and future costs of care).
- Loss of earnings if a parent has to stop work to take care of their child.
- The injury, pain and suffering caused to the child and family.
Punitive damages against Hain Celestial and other baby food manufacturers may also be possible. Punitive damages—exemplary damages awarded at the court's discretion when a defendant’s actions are particularly harmful—can be worth several times more than the compensatory damages in a case.
As the parent of a child diagnosed with autism or ADHD (or both) you probably already know how expensive health care services can be. A lot of our clients have had to pay large out-of-pocket sums for occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other interventions. For some, these services are not covered by their health care insurance policy. In a lot of cases, these therapies are needed for many years.
Filing a lawsuit against Hain Celestial is your way of pursuing justice and compensation for these and other expenses. Our lawsuits allege parents never would have purchased Earth’s Best Organic baby foods if Hain had been truthful about the presence of dangerously high levels of cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic in baby food products.
Selecting the best lawyer for your case is an important decision to make. There are many variables that claimants should consider.
For starters, make sure any attorney you consider has the experience and resources necessary to win a case of this magnitude. Remember, you are going up against a large corporation that earns billions in revenue each year. A corporation of that size will have a formidable legal team to defend it and limit its financial exposure. Your lawyer needs to be up to the task of taking on a corporate giant and demonstrate that he or she has won cases of this magnitude.
Baum Hedlund has a proven track record in class actions and mass torts alleging consumer harm. In 2019, our firm and co-counsel won a $2.055 billion jury verdict in a lawsuit against Monsanto that alleged a defective consumer product caused our clients to develop cancer. After earning this historic verdict, our firm helped negotiate settlement agreements worth nearly $11 billion for thousands of people with similar claims.
Our record speaks for itself: we know what it takes to go up against large corporations and win.
Another key factor in deciding which lawyer is the best for your case: Anyone who represents your interests should be committed to sending a strong message to Hain Celestial and other baby food companies that failure to protect the health of young children comes with consequences. This case is not solely about earning maximum compensation, it is about using the law to improve food safety and prevent other children from suffering similar harm.
Baum Hedlund attorneys were among the first in the country to investigate this serious public health issue and pursue justice for the children harmed by toxic heavy metals in baby food. As of June 2022, our law firm represents over 1,000 children from across the U.S. We filed the first baby food lawsuit in California last year on behalf of a child named Noah who developed ASD and ADHD after consuming Earth’s Best Organic baby foods, among other brands.
On May 24, 2022, the judge overseeing Noah’s case issued a ruling in our favor that not only allows his case to proceed to trial, but it also sets the stage for a massive legal battle between thousands of children like Noah and baby food companies like Hain Celestial.
You can learn more about Noah’s case and the baby food litigation in this episode of Spotlight on America, an award-winning investigative news program airing on 90+ TV stations across the country. The program includes background on Noah Cantabrana’s case as well as interviews with Noah’s mother, Melissa Cantabrana, and Baum Hedlund baby food lawyer Pedram Esfandiary.