Leading Baby Food Products Contain Lead and Other Toxins

A congressional investigation into the safety of baby food resulted in a stunning finding: four major baby food manufacturers sell products tainted with dangerously high levels of toxins. The report concluded that Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber baby foods contain significant amounts of heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. Three other baby food companies refused to cooperate with the investigation. The amount of toxins in the baby foods produced by Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain and Gerber was several times higher than limits experts and governing bodies say are permissible.

The Dangers of Toxic Heavy Metals in Children

Exposure to heavy metals can result in serious, life-long harm to a child’s biological, social and intellectual development. Researchers have found that being exposed to heavy metals may cause a permanent reduction in IQ, elevate the risks of criminal and anti-social behavior, and lead to behavioral disorders. The developing brains of infants are more sensitive to the harm caused by toxic chemicals because they absorb more heavy metals than adults and therefore face increased risks from exposure. One study found that exposure to certain chemicals, such as lead, may cause a loss of roughly 1.57 IQ points per child in the 25 million children studied. The total IQ points lost in the subjects was more than the IQ losses linked to preterm births, brain tumors and traumatic brain injuries. While heavy metals are linked to cancer and neurotoxic harm in all people, the damaging effects of heavy metal exposure on the developing brains of infants is of particular concern.

The subcommittee requested information from the below companies:

  • Nurture, Inc., which includes Happy Family Organics and Happy Baby,
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company,
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc., which includes Earth’s Best Organic,
  • Gerber,
  • Campbell Soup Company, which includes Plum Organics,
  • Walmart Inc., which includes Parent’s Choice, and
  • Sprout Foods, Inc.
How do Children Come into Contact with Toxins?
While lead paint and water pollution are commonly thought to account for most children’s exposure to heavy metals, in fact, half of blood lead exposure in children between the ages of 1 and 6 results from ingesting certain foods. Internal company documents obtained from baby food manufacturers in this report found that certain baby foods contain hundreds of parts per billion of toxic metals – the level considered acceptable is below single digit parts per billion in foods. By comparison, the baby foods sold by these manufacturers contained levels of heavy metals far above the limits established for bottled water by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Baby food products that may include toxic metals include infant rice cereal, purees, juices, snack puffs, and rice cakes.

Regulation of Toxic Metals in Baby Food

The FDA has determined that arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury pose significant health risks to children and infants. Similarly, the World Health Organization lists arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury among the ten chemicals of concern for children. On January 24th, the FDA has announced a proposed draft guidance that would set limits for lead in processed baby foods. The proposed action levels are based on the agency’s evaluation of the potential risks posed by lead exposure in young children. Lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to a child’s development, and exposure to even low levels of lead can cause serious and long-lasting health problems. The proposed limits for lead in baby foods are a positive step toward protecting infants and young children from the dangers of lead exposure, but experts caution that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of all baby foods. Parents and caregivers should be aware of the risks of lead exposure and take steps to minimize their children’s exposure, including choosing foods with lower levels of lead and following safe preparation and storage practices.



The attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP have decades of experience advocating for clients who have been harmed by lead poisoning and heavy metal contamination in water and other sources. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you fed your baby any of these types of foods and the child was later found to have lead in their blood, please give us a call today at 1-800-988-8005 for a free and confidential consultation.

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