Tainted Baby Food Attorney Q&A

Tainted Baby Food Attorney Q&A

At Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, our baby food attorneys receive many calls every day from concerned parents wondering about the news linking several popular baby food brands to toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. These heavy metals can harm neurological development in infants, babies, and young children, even at low levels.

To better serve our clients and parents who want to learn more about this serious issue, we posed some commonly asked questions to baby food attorney Pedram Esfandiary. If you have more questions or would like to learn more about pursuing a baby food lawsuit, please contact us or call (855) 948-5098 for a free and confidential case evaluation.

If your child developed autism or ADHD after consuming baby food products from Happy Family Organics (HappyBABY products), Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organics, Gerber, Plum Organics (Campbell Soup Company), Parent’s Choice (Walmart), or Sprout Organic Food, our firm is here to help you and your family fight for justice.

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Information on Tainted Baby Food

Does my baby food have heavy metals?

Unfortunately, the answer is more than likely yes. Most baby foods have one or more heavy metal in them. According to the Clean Label Project, roughly 95% of baby foods contain at least one toxic heavy metal.

What baby foods have heavy metals in them?

The 2021 U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy report found heavy metals in foods from:

  • Beech-Nut
  • Campbell Soup – Plum Organics
  • Gerber
  • Hain Celestial Group – Earth’s Best Organic
  • Nurture – Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY
  • Sprout Foods – Sprout Organic Food
  • Walmart – Parent’s Choice

Before the 2021 House report on baby food, other independent testing found heavy metals in infant formula and baby foods from:

  • Baby Mum-Mum
  • Comforts (Kroger)
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Cuétara
  • Deluxe Pasta
  • Ella’s Kitchen
  • Enfamil
  • Harvest Hill
  • Healthy Times
  • Kitchdee Organic
  • Kraft
  • Lil’ Dutch Maid
  • Little Duck Organics
  • Meijer
  • Nosh!
  • Nostalgia
  • NurturMe
  • Organics (Albertson’s)
  • Simple Truth Organic (Kroeger)

Which baby foods are safe?

Baby foods safe from heavy metals exclude ingredients like rice, fruit juices, sweet potatoes, or additives like premade vitamin mixes, all of which routinely test at high levels of heavy metals. If you are worried about heavy metals in the food products you serve your child, try substituting rice-based puffs for snacks made with other grains. Instead of fruit juices, try giving your child water.

If you want to evaluate your baby food for safety, we recommend the following resources:

  • Clean Label Project: Lists many baby food products using a star ranking system (one star for worst foods that tested high in contaminants to five stars for the best foods that tested low for contaminants).
  • Healthy Babies Bright Futures: Conducted testing on hundreds of baby food products and listed their findings.
  • Puremarket: Evaluates foods based on a grading system (F for foods that rank low for purity and nutrition, A for foods that rank high for purity and nutrition). You can also search for the products you regularly buy at the market to ensure they are safe from heavy metals.

Which heavy metals are in baby foods?

The heavy metals found in several leading baby foods are arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Lead is arguably the most studied and well-known heavy metal in food. Roughly 1 in 10 children are estimated to consume more than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) daily allowable limit for lead.

Other baby food testing has revealed additional contaminants, including pesticides, antibiotics, and BPA.

Why are heavy metals in baby food?

Arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are environmental pollutants in the air, water, and soil that enter the food supply when plants take them up. According to the FDA, these toxic elements are “unavoidable in the general food supply.”

We do not believe this tells the whole story. Our baby food lawsuits maintain that companies are able to manufacture baby foods that are not high in dangerous heavy metals by using alternative ingredients, not adding certain pre-mix minerals and vitamins high in toxic metals, or sampling their ingredients from other sources.

Companies that manufacture baby food products should regularly test for toxic heavy metals to avoid their presence in the foods parents buy for their children. At the very least, baby food companies should warn unsuspecting parents of the existence of toxic metals in baby foods. Without robust safety standards, children are at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and ADHD.

Is there a baby food recall over heavy metals?

No. None of the baby food companies cited in the 2021 House Subcommittee report issued recalls. With little to no FDA restrictions, baby food manufacturers are free to set their own heavy metals standards for baby food. Until the FDA enacts robust rules for heavy metals in baby foods, government-imposed recalls are unlikely.

To stay updated on company-issued baby food recalls, Very Well Family maintains a recall list that is updated frequently.

Are toxic metals in baby formula?

Some infant formula testing has revealed high levels of heavy metals. The two metals most commonly found in baby formulas are lead and cadmium.

In 2019, Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) conducted testing on several leading baby formulas. According to the data, all formulas contained detectible arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead. Of the 13 formulas tested, 12 had at least 1 ppb lead, and 6 of the 13 had at least 1 ppb cadmium.

What exposure to heavy metals is safe for my baby?

There is no safe level of heavy metals exposure for babies and young children. The FDA has set the maximum contaminant levels (MCL) in bottled water at 10 ppb inorganic arsenic, 5 ppb lead, and 5 ppb cadmium. The EPA has capped the allowable level of mercury in drinking water at 2 ppb.

The testing results of baby foods and their ingredients outlined in the 2021 House baby food report significantly exceed those levels. The report cited arsenic levels up to 91 times greater, lead levels up to 177 times greater, cadmium levels up to 69 times greater, and mercury levels up to 5 times greater.

However, it is important to note that the FDA and EPA created those limits in reference to adult exposure, not infants, which is why the high levels of heavy metals exposed in the government report are so alarming.

Can toxic metals harm my child?

Yes, studies have shown that exposure to toxic metals as a baby, toddler, or young child can cause neurodevelopmental harm, including autism and ADHD. While other variables, including genetics and exposure to other environmental factors, may also affect healthy brain development, the amount of toxic heavy metals in some baby foods is concerning. Our law firm is determined to hold companies accountable for knowingly selling baby foods tainted with high levels of dangerous heavy metals.

What is the FDA doing to stop heavy metals in baby foods?

Not nearly enough, though we hope that will change. This issue has been around for years and the FDA has done very little to protect children from heavy metals in their food. The agency’s lackluster response demonstrates its prioritization of industry over people.

Baby food manufacturers are not required to test finished products for toxic heavy metals. No valid explanation exists for this absurd and dangerous policy except to ensure that manufacturers can freely do business without considering the risk to unknowing infants. Baby food companies do not even warn of the substantial presence of toxic heavy metals in their food. We are determined to change this via litigation.

How can I reduce my child’s exposure to heavy metals?

Read food labels before you buy: Pay close attention to the first couple of ingredients in the foods you buy. Ingredients are listed in order of predominance in the product. Some baby food pouches or blends may say “kale and pear” or “pumpkin and spinach,” but in reality, the first couple of ingredients are sweet potatoes, which should be avoided as they typically test high in heavy metals.

Foods with a long list of ingredients should be avoided, as should rice-based foods or foods that include additives like premade vitamin mixes. If you are unsure, check Puremarket to see how your foods rate for heavy metals.

Breastfeed if you can: Some infant formulas test high for heavy metals, so avoid formula feeding if you can. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, then continued breastfeeding for one year or longer as complementary foods are introduced and as mutually desired by mother and infant.

Serve water, not fruit juice: Some fruit juices for kids test for heavy metals at high levels. Sweeten your child’s water with lemon or give them sliced whole fruits rather than packaged fruit juices.

Try making your own purees and baby foods: While most people may not have time to do this, the benefits of making your child’s food at home can help your child avoid heavy metals and other contaminants from packaging and manufacturing. Making baby food can be cost-effective as well, as you can choose which ingredients fit your budget and your child’s taste. If you want more information on getting started making your own organic baby food, we recommend checking out this book.

Do organic baby foods have heavy metals?

Unfortunately, serving certified organic baby food products from some manufacturers does not necessarily help your child avoid heavy metals. While organic foods are lower in pesticide levels and have less impact on the environment, testing has shown that some organic baby foods are no safer than conventional foods when it comes to heavy metals.

In 2018, Consumer Reports analyzed 50 nationally distributed packaged foods manufactured for babies and toddlers. Twenty of those products labeled organic were just as likely to contain heavy metals as non-organic products.

How Baby Food Lawsuits Work

Is my baby food lawsuit part of a class action?

No. The type of cases we file are called mass torts. These lawsuits are filed on behalf of parents whose children were diagnosed with autism or ADHD after being exposed to baby foods from several leading brands.

How is a mass tort different than a class action lawsuit?

In class action lawsuits, everyone has the same or significantly similar injuries. Therefore, all participants (aside from class representatives) will receive similar amounts of compensation at the end of the case.

A mass tort groups together individual claims or lawsuits before the same court and judge to avoid duplicative discovery and ensure consistent application of laws and procedures. Because the cases are still individual lawsuits, the amount received will not necessarily be uniform. The amount of compensation is based on the actual damages (physical, emotional, and economic) that you have as an individual.

We believe that mass torts offer the best of both worlds when it comes to litigation. By grouping many cases before the same judge, costs are kept down, as any expert testimony, travel, and expenses incurred during discovery can be divided across the whole group. The compensation you receive will more accurately reflect your level of harm instead of being doled out equally to a person who potentially suffered less. Class action lawsuits serve a good purpose. In the baby food litigation, an individualized claim is in parents' best interest.

Do I have a baby food lawsuit?

The easiest way to determine if you have a baby food lawsuit is to fill out our contact form for a free and fast case evaluation. We will review your case immediately and contact you within a matter of days if you are eligible to pursue a lawsuit.

You may have a case if your child developed autism or ADHD after consistently eating baby foods from the following brands:

  • Beech-Nut
  • Campbell Soup – Plum Organics
  • Gerber
  • Hain Celestial Group – Earth’s Best Organic
  • Nurture – Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY
  • Sprout Foods – Sprout Organic Food
  • Walmart – Parent’s Choice

How much is my baby food case worth?

It is impossible to predict how much money you could receive from a successful baby food lawsuit. Each case has different damages associated with it, and the extent of a company’s wrongdoing is often not fully discovered until our attorneys get deeper into the litigation process.

Victims generally may be eligible to receive compensation for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost income
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Other damages

How long will my case take to resolve?

These cases can last years or be completed relatively quickly, depending on the whims of the companies involved. Mass tort lawsuits often last more than a year, but beyond that minimum estimate, the timelines for each case are impossible to predict.

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