Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of exposure to heavy metals
Heavy metals occur naturally in the environment, more specifically in the earth, and they cannot degrade. While some heavy metals are essential for the proper functioning of our bodies as trace elements such as selenium, copper, and zinc, when they exist in great amounts, they put our health at high risk. The following are the most common, as well as the most concerning, heavy metals that are present in certain brands of baby food:
In children, exposure to high concentrations of heavy metals can be fatal. Nevertheless, exposure to lower concentrations over the course of several years, which is how it occurs in the case of being fed baby food, can lead to cognitive disorders and learning disabilities. This is because heavy metals are neurotoxins that affect the normal development of the brain and cause deficits in cognitive function and behavioral performance.
If you wonder how heavy metals end up in baby food, the answer is simple - they exist in the soil and in synthetic pesticides used on crops. Heavy metals can be avoided by buying organic vegetables and they can be removed from crops using bioremediation tools. However, these are steps most baby food companies have avoided taking.
Eligibility criteria for toxic baby food claims
To become eligible to file a toxic baby food claim, parents must have fed their baby one or multiple food products mentioned on this page.
Moreover, their child must have been diagnosed with one of these autism spectrum disorders before the age of 6:
Naturally, when mothers finish breastfeeding their babies, roughly 90% of them will buy formula and baby food from the store as a new form of nourishment for their child.
However, for several decades, heavy metals have been lurking in baby food and when parents become aware of this alarming issue, safe, non-toxic sources of sustenance must be found for the child. Many parents had not been aware of the presence of neurotoxins in baby food until recently. For this reason, if a parent fed their baby some of these products and the child later developed a disorder on the autism spectrum, they have the right to file a claim for compensation.
Interestingly, 1 out of 44 children born in and after 2010 has autism (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This means that over 2% of the children in the country struggle with autism, or 596,852 young individuals. Since 2008, there have been 54,730,000 births in the U.S. The average age of diagnosis for disorders on the autism spectrum is 5. The prevalence of autism may have a link to the presence of neurotoxins in baby food, as these hazardous substances take a heavy toll on the development and cognitive function of a child. If a parent is in the situation above, they should reach out to our legal team, as we have been pursuing cases like yours for over 25 years, by virtue of which we have the necessary experience, knowledge, and resources to obtain the most favorable outcome for the child.
Baby foods with dangerous levels of neurotoxins that are currently on the market
A recent investigation led by Healthy Baby's Futures, a consumer advocacy group, selected 168 individual containers of 13 different food types under 61 baby food brand names. The researchers tested for the four heavy metals and also for perchlorate, and the results were shocking and appalling - only 9 out of the 168 containers had no neurotoxin. These are the brands of baby foods, as well as the name of the products, that contain dangerous levels of neurotoxins and we file claims for:
- Beech-Nut Rice Single Grain Baby Cereal
- Beech-Nut Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal
- Beech-Nut Organics Just Carrots
- Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Carrots
- Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes Stage 2
- Beech-Nut Classics Mixed Vegetables Stage 2
- Earth's Best Organic Sensitivity DHR/ARA Infant Formula with Iron
- Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal
- Earth's Best Organic Sesame Street Peanut Butter Baked Corn Puffs
- Earth's Best Organic Spinach and Potato Baby Food 6 months
- Gerber Multigrain Cereal
- Gerber Rice Single Grain Cereal
- Gerber Oatmeal Single Grain Cereal
- Gerber Whole Wheat Whole Grain Cereal
- Gerber Barley Single Grain Cereal
- Gerber Diced Carrots Veggie Pickups
- Gerber Carrot Sitter 2nd Food
- Gerber Carrot Supported Sitter 1st Goods
- Gerber Sweet Potato Supported Sitter 1st Foods Tub
- Gerber Sweet Potato Sitter 2nd Foods
- Gerber Fruit & Veggie Melts Truly Tropical Blend Free
- Gerber Arrowroot Biscuits
- Plum Organics Mighty Morning Bar
- Plum Organics Teensy Snacks Berry
- Plum Organics Grow Well Tummy
- Plum Organics Grow Well Muscle
- Plum Organics Little Teethers
- Plum Organics Mighty Snack Bars
It is important to mention another neurotoxin in the context of contaminated baby food, namely perchlorate. Any concentration greater than 1 ppb of perchlorate in baby food or drinking water can put the health of a child at high risk. While perchlorate is not a heavy metal itself, it is a strong oxidizer that will accelerate the release of heavy metals in the soil. Therefore, it can be present in baby food along with heavy metals.
What are the concerning levels of neurotoxins in baby food?
Unlike baby food with dangerous concentrations of heavy metals, these products contain a smaller amount of neurotoxins but are still deemed unsafe. Therefore, parents who have fed their infant or toddler the baby foods on this list qualify for filing a claim too.
Firstly, it is important to define what a concerning level of heavy metals is when it comes to baby food. These are the official amounts of neurotoxins in baby food:
- arsenic: 40 to 75 ppb
- lead: 7 to 17 ppb
- mercury: 1 to 3 ppb
- cadmium: 10 to 25 ppb
FDA limits and regulations for toxicity in baby food
Regrettably, the FDA has limited and regulated the presence of only SOME heavy metals in baby food, which leaves a lot of manufacturers free to skip checking the level of neurotoxins in their products.
In October of 2021, Attorney General William Tong joined 23 other attorneys general petitioning the FDA to protect the health and well-being of children across the country by prompting actions to eliminate heavy metals from baby food.
The petition is a response to the rising alarm regarding the health hazard of heavy metals in baby food and the failure of companies and suppliers to reduce the risks. The following are the FDA limits with regard to the four heavy metals of concern found in a wide range of baby food expressed in parts per billion (ppb):
- arsenic: the limit is 100 ppb, but it only applies to rice cereals made for infants and not to other types of baby food
- lead: there is no limit when it comes to lead in baby food at the moment, but the limit in drinking water is 5 ppb
- cadmium: no limit has been set by the agency for cadmium in baby food, but the limit is also 5 ppb for drinking water
- mercury: the agency has not enforced any limit concerning mercury as well, but for drinking water, the limit is 2 ppb
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration said that it was taking actions "to remove from the market certain products that contain detectable levels of lead with little to no nutritional value, and those containing cadmium." The agency also claimed that it "has taken at least 20 regulatory actions against infant formula and baby food manufacturers for violating current good manufacturing practices in the last year alone" and that "the federal watchdog agency cited poor product quality control as a major reason for these violations."
The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021
Nevertheless, on March 26, 2021, the bill known as the Baby Food Safety Act was introduced in the House by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi with the purpose of establishing the maximum concentrations allowable of the four heavy metals in infant and toddler food, which is defined as products sold for children up to 36 months old (source: Congress). Here is what this bill proposes in respect of the permissible limit of heavy metals in baby food:
- arsenic: 10 ppb inorganic arsenic cap on baby food in general with a 15 ppb inorganic arsenic cap on infant cereal
- lead: 5 ppb lead cap on baby food and 10 ppb lead cap on infant cereal
- cadmium: 5 ppb cadmium cap on baby food and 10 ppb cap on infant cereal
- mercury: 2 ppb mercury cap on all baby food
Seven months after releasing the report concerning the presence of heavy metals in popular brands of baby food, the initiator of the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 had his subcommittee on economic and consumer policy issue a follow-up alleging that the industry "consistently cut corners and put profit over the health of babies and children."
The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 has not yet passed the Senate so that it can move forward, which means that it is pending. We should expect to hear updates about it within the following months. If it becomes effective, the risk of children developing autism spectrum disorders will significantly diminish, and baby food will become completely safe to consume for infants and toddlers.
Finally, to help families whose children have been fed any brand of toxic baby food, we took the initiative to set up a baby food replacement initiative. Also, if a child has any of the qualifiable diseases, parents may also want to visit our testing requests page.
Updates & timeline for toxic baby food
By now, at least 86 lawsuits have been filed by outraged and appalled parents across the country against manufacturers of baby food whose products contain dangerous concentrations of heavy metals. However, the burning issue of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in infant and toddler food is not really new, as there have been multiple studies and lawsuits with regard to it over the past decade, as follows:
After a lengthy investigation period, our office now has a finalized version of the complaint ready to file in state court in Illinois. We have reviewed a large group of clients' hair tests for heavy metals, and we reviewed the results from testing the baby food itself for heavy metals. After this review, we remain confident in our claims presented in this lawsuit.
Additionally, we have removed Tylenol as a defendant in this lawsuit. This will not affect your baby food claim in any way. We believe in the science behind our claims that heavy metals in baby food caused or contributed to your child's diagnosis.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to represent you in this matter and we look forward to working with you. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office.
The allowable lead concentration in certain baby and toddler foods should be 20 parts per billion or less, according to new draft guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “For babies and young children who eat the foods covered in today’s draft guidance, the FDA estimates that these action levels could result in as much as a 24-27% reduction in exposure to lead from these foods,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf.
Although any action on the part of the FDA is welcome, the proposed lead level is not low enough to make baby food safe, said Jane Houlihan, the national director of science and health for Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a coalition of advocates dedicated to reducing babies’ exposure to neurotoxic chemicals such as heavy metals. “Nearly all baby foods on the market already comply with what they have proposed,” said Houlihan. “The FDA hasn’t done enough with these proposed lead limits to protect babies and young children from lead’s harmful effects. There is no known safe level of lead exposure, and children are particularly vulnerable,” she added.
In a new report, the non-profit organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures tested 288 foods and analyzed more than 7,000 additional baby food testing data from published studies. The report found that:
- 94% of all food samples had detectable amounts of toxic heavy metals, including commercial baby food, and homemade purees
- rice cakes and crisped rice cereal were heavily contaminated with arsenic
- high arsenic, cadmium, and lead concentrations were found in fresh carrots and sweet potatoes
The baby foods with the highest levels of toxic metals are, in order of most contaminated, the following:
- rice cakes
- crisped rice cereal
- rice puffs
- brown rice
- rice teething biscuits and rusks
- white rice
- teething crackers (non-rice)
- granola bars with raisins
- oat-ring cereal
Attorney General Letitia James led a multistate coalition of 22 attorneys general urging the heads of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture to take immediate action to eliminate toxic metals from baby food. This is the second petition filed by the coalition of attorneys general. “No parent should have to worry about whether the food they serve their children is safe to eat,” said Attorney General James. “While our federal food safety watchdogs are working to implement critical long-term solutions, there are immediate, common-sense steps they can take that would begin to drive down the levels of toxic metals in baby foods,” she added.
- October 21, 2021: On October 21, a coalition of 24 Attorneys General petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to prioritize setting maximum limits for heavy metals in baby food. Their petition criticized the agency because its Closer to Zero plan to minimize the concentration of heavy metals in infant and toddler food does not include sufficiently aggressive timelines for reducing the levels of cadmium, arsenic, lead, and mercury in these products. The attorneys urge the Food and Drug Administration to immediately set interim proposed action levels, which refers to the limit of heavy metals at or above which the agency must remove baby food from the market. While the coalition applauded the agency for its Closer to Zero plan, the attorneys believe that many of the timelines are too far off when action to protect children is necessary as soon as possible.
- October 8, 2021: Maple Island Inc. announced that it recalls three lots of Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal because of high levels of arsenic in the products. The 8 oz. lots that were subject to recall were sold after April 5, 2021, and were Lot 21083 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of JUN 24 2022, Lot 21084 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of JUN 25 2022, and Lot 21242 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of NOV 30 2022.
- September 29, 2021: The results of a second congressional report on heavy metals in baby food, New Disclosures Show Dangerous Levels of Toxic Heavy Metals in Even More Baby Foods, were made public. Following the release of the February 4 congressional report on the same issue, the 3 baby food companies that had initially refused to cooperate with the investigators decided to share their internal practices and study results with the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. Upon providing its test results, Plum Organics was found guilty of allowing high concentrations of heavy metals in the baby food that went on the market. Walmart provided documents revealing a concerning lack of attention to the heavy metal content in baby food and the abandonment of its previous strict, protective standards. The documents Sprout provided displayed a lax approach to testing for heavy metals, too.
- September 23, 2021: Two mothers, Hannah Dempsey and Kathleen Hood filed a lawsuit against Gerber, alleging that the high levels of heavy metals in the baby food made by the company put their babies, as well as other children, at great risk of developing autism spectrum disorders. The class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on September 23, accusing Gerber of hiding the fact that their products had dangerous concentrations of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.
Beech-Nut Nutrition Company issued a voluntary recall on one lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal, as it contained a level of arsenic that was above the safe limit. The specific Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice product (UPC Code# 52200034705) that was recalled has 01 MAY 2022 as expiration date and product codes 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX. Additionally, the company decided to exit the market of baby food indefinitely.
April 8, 2021: The Food and Drug Administration came up with the Closer to Zero plan, which is meant to “reduce exposure to toxic elements from foods eaten by babies and young children to as low as possible.” The agency’s strategy entails four steps and would come to fruition in 2024 or even later, which is why it has been criticized by many. Indeed, the Closer to Zero plan is unnecessarily lengthy and does not involve radical action, as it should, considering that developing children across the country need clean, non-toxic food as soon as possible. The strategy of the Food and Drug Administration is also problematic because it fails to consider the cumulative effect of heavy metals on children’s neurodevelopment.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform made public the report Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury, which reveals the results of a study conducted in 2020 on numerous baby food companies in the country with the purpose of measuring the concentration of heavy metals in these products. Some of the companies that were found to have dangerous levels of heavy metals in their baby food were Gerber, Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organic, Sprout, Plum Organics, and Parent’s Choice. Subsequently, a complaint was filed by enraged consumers who had purchased these brands of baby food and fed the products to their children, many of whom later developed autism.
The non-profit organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures published “What’s in My Baby Food?”, a report focusing on the presence of heavy metals in baby food. It revealed that a whopping 95% of the baby food examined had dangerous concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Only 9 out of the 168 baby food containers tested had no trace of heavy metals. The organization conducted the test on 13 different food types under 61 baby food brand names. To comprehend how serious the problem is, let the fact that one in four baby foods contained all four heavy metals sink in.
A study led by Consumer Reports also found alarming levels of heavy metals in baby food. The researchers examined 50 nationally distributed packaged baby foods and tested the products for cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and lead. Shockingly, every product had measurable concentrations of at least one heavy metal, and 68% had concerning levels of at least one heavy metal. Moreover, 15 of the foods analyzed would greatly endanger the health of the baby if they were fed one serving or less of these products a day. Lastly, snacks and products containing sweet potatoes and rice were especially likely to have a high concentration of heavy metals, and organic foods were as likely to have toxic agents as regular baby food.
The study of a non-profit organization, Clean Label Project, found that up to 30% of baby food contains lead and other toxic agents, such as mercury, arsenic, pesticides, and acrylamides. The American Academy of Pediatrics had previously brought to the attention of the Food and Drug Administration this problem and urged it to change the standards and to recognize that there is no safe limit of lead in baby food. However, this study had numerous other findings. Over 50% of infant formula contained arsenic, while soy-based infant formula had a concentration of cadmium seven times higher than other products. Finally, more than 50% of products claiming to be BPA-free tested positive for this harmful agent.