Contaminated Baby Food and Autism: Who’s Affected?
- Several baby foods are tainted with toxic metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, according to a recent congressional report.
- Metal contamination has been linked to the development of autism and other neurological disorders.
- Fill out the form on this page for a free claim review.
Based on internal documents and independent research, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy issued a report alleging that baby food made by the following brands contains toxic metals:
- Earth’s Best Organic (Hain Celestial Group)
- HappyBABY (Nurture)
- Parent’s Choice (Walmart)
- Plum Organics (Campbell Soup Company)
- Sprout Foods
Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best, Gerber and HappyBaby are facing a lawsuit filed by parents who claim that the metal contamination in the baby food led to the development of autism in their children.
Congressional Report Reveals Heavy Metals in Baby Food
In November 2019, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, under the Committee on Oversight and Reform, requested internal documents and test results from several large baby food manufacturers after reports of heavy metals in the food surfaced.
Four of the companies — Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain, and Gerber — produced the requested documentation, while Walmart, Campbell, and Sprout Organic Foods did not.
The subcommittee’s report on its findings, issued Feb. 4, 2021, found commercial baby foods contain “significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.”
According to the report, exposure to these metals can cause a permanent decrease in IQ and “an increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children,” among other things.
“This is an endemic problem that’s been swept under the rug and never addressed,” Tracey Woodruff, director of the reproductive health and the environment program at the University of California, San Francisco, told The New York Times.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not set specific limits on the amount of heavy metals in baby food, other than arsenic in rice cereal, The New York Times reported.
Arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury all are naturally occurring elements found in the soil in which crops are grown, meaning they are impossible to avoid, CNN reported. But higher concentrations of the metals are found in some regions and crop fields, in part due to industrial pollution and the use of pesticides that contain metal.
Since the report was released, New York’s attorney general sent a letter to acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock requesting stricter enforcement of baby food.
Class Action Lawsuits Filed Over Presence of Metal Toxins in Baby Food
Following the release of the House report, Gerber and Beech-Nut each were named as defendants in class action lawsuits accusing the companies of false advertising.
The Gerber class action lawsuit alleges the company does not list heavy metals among the ingredients on its baby food products.
“Unbeknownst to Plaintiffs and members of the Proposed Classes, and contrary to the representations on the Products’ label, the Products contain heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, and lead at levels above what is considered safe for babies,” the lawsuit argues.
Had the company included the heavy metals among the ingredient list, the plaintiffs say, consumers would not have chosen to purchase the products.
Gerber is formally accused of violating Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, and Texas consumer protection and fraud laws as well as unjust enrichment.
Plaintiffs in the Beech-Nut class action lawsuit level similar accusations, though it also points out Beech-Nut markets its baby food as natural and organic.
Although the defendant claims it conducts testing for up to 255 pesticides on its purees, it does not indicate on the labeling or marketing that its baby foods include or “have a high risk of” including heavy metals, according to the class action lawsuit.
Not only does the company not warn consumers of this risk, but the baby food products “have been shown to contain significant levels of arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, and/or perchlorate2 — all known to pose health risks to humans and particularly infants,” the complaint states.
Beech-Nut is formally accused of violating consumer and false advertising law in several states, as well as of unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by omission, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of express warranty.
Autism Linked to Toxic Baby Food, Lawsuit Claims
A lawsuit was filed by a group of six parents and their seven minor children who claim that the toxins found in the baby food made by Beech-Nut, Hain Celestial, Gerber, and Nurture led to the development of autism in each of their children.
Autism is a neurological development disorder that affects one-in-54 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says that about one-in-six children aged 3-17 years from 2009-2017 received a diagnosis with a developmental disability. This includes autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, blindness, and others.
The lawsuit claims that the children contracted autism due to the elevated levels of heavy metals in the baby food products cited in the congressional report.
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