You want to keep your children safe at all costs, but what if the food you’re feeding them is causing harm? That’s exactly what a congressional subcommittee asked during an investigation of top baby food manufacturers, the unsettling results of which were released on February 4, 2021.
According to the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy within the U.S. House of Representatives, baby foods are tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury – members of the World Health Organization’s top 10 chemicals of concern for infants and children.
Coverage from CNN suggests manufacturers may have known about the contamination and sold their baby foods anyways.
Ingredients and Additives
Toxic metals are natural elements found in the soil where crops are grown. Although they cannot be fully avoided, some crops and fields have higher levels of toxicity than others. Additionally, some of the additives that manufacturers use in baby food contain high amounts of toxic metals.
When put together, even the highest quality ingredients can yield unsafe levels of toxic metals. According to the national director of science and health for Healthy Babies Bright Futures:
“Pound for pound, babies get the highest dose of these heavy metals compared to other parts of the population.”
Lack of FDA Oversight
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet set minimum levels for heavy metals in most infant food, but the agency has set standards for arsenic in both infant rice cereal – at 100 parts per billion – and bottled water – 10 parts per billion. Levels of cadmium should not exceed 5 parts per billion in drinking water.
Still, the congressional report uncovered:
“Baby food ingredients in certain products contained up to 91 times the inorganic arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to five times the mercury level allowed in bottled water.”
The information above applies to both organic and inorganic baby food, and none of the products have warning labels for parents.
Nurture, Hain, Gerber, and Beech-Nut
As parents, many people trust leading brands to provide safe, nutritious food to their children. Unfortunately, a 2019 report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures found toxic metals in 95% of randomly selected baby foods on grocery store shelves.
Partially inspired by this report, the Subcommittee’s investigation focused on 4 leading baby food manufacturers:
- Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
- Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic baby food)
- Nurture, Inc. (Happy Baby products)
Internal documents from each of these companies revealed levels of toxic metals that exceed recommendations from experts and government bodies. In Beech-Nut made baby food, for example, ingredients tested as high as 913.4 parts per billion for arsenic, and additives contained up to 710.9 parts per billion.
Worse still, companies including Sprout Organic Foods, Walmart (Parent’s Choice baby food), and Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics) allegedly refused to cooperate, leading investigators to believe they may be hiding even higher levels of toxic metals in their baby food products.
Why This Matters
The American Academy of Pediatrics states:
“There is no safe level of lead exposure in children.”
Like lead, other heavy metals on WHO’s watchlist have been linked to cancer, chronic disease, and neurotoxic events. Heavy metal poisoning is especially detrimental for children, who have an extremely high sensitivity to neurotoxic chemicals from the time of conception through the age of 2. When babies are exposed to too many harmful substances, their developing brains are at risk. The impacts of heavy metal consumption can range from “behavioral problems to aggression to IQ loss and all kinds of cognitive and behavioral deficits that can persist throughout life.”
The companies that make baby food are well aware of these facts, and inside information and internal documents show they know exactly how much arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are in their products.
Nevertheless, they continue to send these products to the market, knowing full well they will be fed to babies. Some companies set safety goals for their products, only to mark the products as ready to sell when they drastically fail to meet those goals.
As a result of this upsetting investigation, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has urged the FDA to “standardize maximum levels for each toxic metal that can damage a baby's developing brain and apply them to all foods.”
Until this occurs, you should monitor what you feed your baby closely and keep a careful eye on their health. If you notice any symptoms of heavy metal poisoning, seek medical attention right away.
If you believe your child has sustained injuries of any kind as the result of a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation.
At Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC, we can help you understand your rights and legal options during a free consultation, and we are available 24/7 to discuss your situation.
Call us at (866) 675-4427 or contact us online to talk to attorneys who will champion your story and fight for the compensation you deserve.