Updates & timeline for toxic baby food

June 2024 - Baby Food Update

As you may have seen in the news, a Multi District Litigation or MDL was formed for lawsuits involving heavy metals in baby food and the development of autism. This is the process the federal court system uses to consolidate cases from districts around the county with similar claims in front of one judge. The baby food MDL is centered in San Francisco. While we were mainly investigating a different route, an MDL was something we anticipated as a possibility. We worked closely with the firms involved with the MDL leading up to its formation and will continue to as we moved forward.

The MDL will likely benefit the case as a whole and allow more plaintiffs to share resources. The formation of an MDL does affect our approach to venue selection for filing. While we have not done so yet, it is possible that your case may end up in the MDL. Part of the process in most MDLs is establishing a filing protocol and setting guidelines for picking bellwether plaintiffs. We expect the same here.

We are not abandoning what was discussed in the previous update, but the environment has changed with the formation of the MDL, and it will affect our decisions regardless of where we file. The MDL has broad authority to include cases from around the county in its jurisdiction and we must act accordingly.

April 2024 - Toxic Baby Food Update

We continue to progress forward in the case against the companies who produced baby food with toxic levels of heavy metals and the links to autism. Your individual case is part of a larger group of cases we are preparing for litigation.

Presently, we are evaluating potential expert witnesses and potential bellwether cases. Several cases out of this larger group will be selected as bellwethers, which serve as a sample of the larger group. Whether or not your case is chosen is in no way an indication of quality, and the selection process includes a multitude of factors.

We are grateful for the opportunity to represent you in your lawsuit. If you have any questions or concerns about your case, please contact our office at 205.328.9200.

July 2023 - finalized version of the complaint ready to file in state court in Illinois

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.

January 2023 - FDA proposes new levels for lead in baby food

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.

August 2022 - Healthy Babies Bright Futures releases a new report on baby food with heavy metals

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
  • raisins
  • teething crackers (non-rice)
  • granola bars with raisins
  • oat-ring cereal

June 2022 - New York Attorney General Letitia James petitioned the FDA once more

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 2021 - a coalition of 24 Attorneys General petitioned the FDA / Maple Island Inc. recalls

  • 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 2021 - congressional report made public / lawsuit against Gerber

  • 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.

June 2021 - Beech-Nut Nutrition Company recall

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 2021- the Closer to Zero plan

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.

March 2021 - results of a study conducted in 2020

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.

2019 - Healthy Babies Bright Futures publishes “What’s in My Baby Food?”

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.

2018 - Consumer Reports study

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.

2017 - Clean Label Project

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.