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Dangerous Levels of Heavy Metals Found in Baby Food

The Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, part of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform, published a study on February 4, 2021, that has many parents rightfully concerned. The study, Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury, details the alarmingly high levels of heavy metals that can be found in baby foods produced by the most popular brands.

While the House Subcommittee’s report has brought more attention to this issue, the dangerous presence of heavy metals in baby food has been a concern for some time. According to a 2019 study from Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), 95% of the baby foods they tested contained toxic chemicals. The Subcommittee’s report does, however, reveal something alarming about the companies’ attitudes toward this issue.

While the companies do perform internal testing for heavy metals, their standards for what levels are acceptable are considerably higher than what government agencies have recommended in other circumstances. For example, the FDA and EPA have set limits for heavy metals in bottled and drinking water.

Maximum allowable units in parts per billion (ppb) for:

  • Arsenic: 10 ppb
  • Lead: 5 ppb
  • Cadmium:5 ppb
  • Mercury: 2 ppb

According to the report, “the test results of baby foods and their ingredients eclipse those levels: including results up to 91 times the arsenic level, up to 177 times the lead level, up to 69 times the cadmium level, and up to 5 times the mercury level.” And even though their internal testing revealed such high levels of toxic metals, the companies continued to sell those products.

The Brands in Question

One of the most pressing questions that parents have is what foods contain these high levels of heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

The Subcommittee’s report was focused on these four companies:

  • Nurture, Inc., which sells Happy Family Organics, including HappyBABY products.
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc., which sells Earth’s Best Organic
  • Gerber

Three other companies declined to release internal documents and test results: Walmart (which sells Parent’s Choice and Parent’s Choice Organic), Campbell (which sells Plum Organics), and Sprout Organic Food. Independent testing of their products, however, has also shown that their baby foods contain concerning levels of heavy metals. Refusing to release their internal testing does not offer much reassurance. 

How Heavy Metals Affect Development

Consuming large amounts of heavy metals is dangerous for anyone, but it is particularly harmful to children and infants. Children’s minds and bodies are developing rapidly in the first few years of life and heavy metals can have a serious effect on their neurological, cardiovascular, and immune systems. The HBBF study concluded that “children under 2 years of age lose over 11 million IQ points from exposures to heavy metals in food.”

What Can Be Done

The Subcommittee’s report included five recommendations, including mandatory testing required by the FDA, clear labeling of food that exceeds recommended levels, a voluntary phase-out of toxic ingredients, more rigid FDA standards, and increased parental vigilance. While the government should be doing more to regulate the levels of heavy metals in baby food and parents should take responsibility for what their children consume, someone must be there to hold the manufacturers accountable for knowingly selling unsafe products.

The product liability attorneys at Arnold & Itkin LLP know how to take on large companies when they put profit before the safety of consumers. When you purchase something, you are trusting that the company who produced it has done its due diligence to create a safe product—and this is especially true for baby products. If they violate that trust and cause harm, we are standing by to seek justice.

If you have questions or are concerned that your child’s development was impacted by the dangerous levels of heavy metal in baby food, call (888) 493-1629 for your free consultation with our baby food heavy metal lawyers.


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