Toxic Baby Food: What Parents Need to Know

Young baby eating out of a cup.

Parents trust food manufacturers to produce convenient and nutritious food for their babies. These manufacturers have a legal responsibility to ensure their products are safe, and particularly for this extremely vulnerable part of the population. Unfortunately, recent reports suggest several of the country’s biggest baby food manufacturers may be neglecting their responsibility by knowingly selling products with alarming levels of toxic substances.

Baby Food Brands with Toxic Metals

In November of 2019, The House of Representatives Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee received reports of toxic substances in commercial baby food brands. In response, the Subcommittee asked seven of the country’s largest baby food manufacturers to provide internal documentation and test results related to these reports. 

The following companies complied with the Subcommittee’s request by providing their internal policies and test results:

  • Nurture, Inc., the seller of Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY baby food products
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, the seller of Beech-Nut baby food products
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc., the seller of Earth’s Best Organic products
  • Gerber, the seller of Gerber baby food products

Concerningly, the following companies refused to comply with the Subcommittee’s request altogether:

  • Campbell Soup Company, the seller of Plum Organics baby food products
  • Walmart, Inc., the seller of Parent’s Choice baby food products
  • Sprout Foods, Inc., the seller of Sprout Organic Foods baby food products

These companies’ refusal to comply with the request has led to the Subcommittee’s suspicions of extremely high levels of toxic heavy metals in children’s food they sell.

Why Are These Brands Toxic?

Based on the documents provided by the baby food manufacturers that responded to the Subcommittee’s request, these brands are toxic because they contain significant levels of the following heavy metals:

  • Arsenic – All four companies (Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain, and Gerber) detected arsenic in their baby foods.
  • Lead – All four companies detected lead in their baby foods.
  • Cadmium – All four companies detected cadmium in their baby foods.
  • Mercury – Nurture, Inc. was the only company that detected mercury in its baby foods. However, this is only because Gerber rarely tests for mercury, and Beech-Nut and Hain do not test for mercury at all.

The levels of toxic heavy metals detected in each company’s baby foods were many times greater than the maximum allowable levels for other food products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, the FDA has set the maximum allowable levels in bottled water at 10 ppb inorganic arsenic, 5 ppb lead, and 6 ppb cadmium. In comparison, the heavy metals found in Gerber were at levels as high as 90 ppb inorganic arsenic, 48 ppb lead, and 87 ppb cadmium.

Each company set policies for maximum allowable levels for these substances that were much higher than FDA standards for other foods. Reports reveal the companies still sold baby foods that exceeded the heavy metal limits of their own policies.

These shocking results also raise disturbing questions about the baby foods made by the companies that refused to respond (Campbell, Walmart, and Sprout). According to the Subcommittee’s report, current lawmakers are concerned the companies’ refusal to cooperate may be due to “even higher levels of toxic heavy metals.”

The Dangers of Toxic Heavy Metals to Kids

Even though toxic heavy metals are known to pose dangerous health risks, especially to children and infants, there is currently no federal standard regulating these substances in baby food. However, even low levels of exposure to toxic heavy metals can result in severe and sometimes permanent health effects in children, such as:

  • Brain damage, reduced intelligence, and decreases in IQ
  • Higher risk of antisocial and criminal behavior in adulthood
  • Increased risk of brain tumors and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Respiratory, gastrointestinal, and immunological effects
  • Reduced postnatal growth and delayed puberty
  • Increased risk of neurodevelopmental issues, such as autism and ADHD

How To Research Your Children’s Food and What to Look For

You can take the following proactive steps as you research and re-evaluate your child’s food:

  • Reduce the amount of rice cereal you feed your child since many commercial rice products contain concerning levels of inorganic arsenic
  • Limit the pre-packaged foods you give your child, as many contain rice flour
  • Limit pre-packaged fruit juices, some of which may contain arsenic and lead
  • Replace pre-packaged foods with whole foods with naturally low heavy metal contents, such as apples, avocados, bananas, grapes, eggs, and cheese

Contact a Toxic Baby Food Mass Tort Lawyer for Help Today

If you believe your child may have suffered developmental injuries or harm due to one of these brands, your family deserves justice and fair compensation. 

Contact a toxic baby food mass tort lawyer at the Law Office of Michael J. Gopin in El Paso to learn more about your options in a free initial consultation.