The short answer to the question, “Should I be worried about heavy metals in baby food?” is yes. In February 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Committee on Oversight and Reform released a disturbing report called, “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury,” and medical research over the past decade shows that heavy metals like these may be linked to autism and other physical and behavioral disorders.
Which Baby Foods Contain Heavy Metals?
The House subcommittee found heavy metals in products from 7 of the largest manufacturers of baby food in the United States. The following companies were implicated in the report:
- Nurture, Inc. (including Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY products)
- Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
- Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic)
- Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics)
- Walmart Inc. (Parent’s Choice)
- Sprout Foods, Inc.
The subcommittee found arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in both organic and non-organic baby food products from the manufacturers above. Levels of these heavy metals exceeded the amount allowed in drinking water.
How Do Heavy Metals Affect Developing Minds?
Babies are especially susceptible to brain damage from heavy metals. As Consumer Reports explains:
“Exposure to heavy metals has a disproportionate adverse effect on developing minds and bodies.”
There is no safe level of exposure to heavy metals, especially for babies and children. Although we are exposed to heavy metals every day, increased exposure from contaminated baby food can decrease IQ and increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and behavioral problems.
Lead, cadmium, and arsenic can harm developing minds, brains, cardiovascular systems, and immune systems – and up the risk of skin and bladder cancer.
Has the Government Responded to the House Subcommittee Report?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responded to the House subcommittee report on heavy metal and baby foods. According to the agency:
“The FDA takes exposure to toxic elements in the food supply extremely seriously, especially when it comes to protecting the health and safety of the youngest and most vulnerable in the population.”
After the FDA detected high amounts of arsenic in rice cereals and fruit juice, for example, the agency took steps to reduce infant arsenic exposure. The agency will continue working with scientists to determine the best ways to minimize children’s exposure to heavy metals.
In the meantime, manufacturers have not removed their products from the shelves and continue selling products with high levels of heavy metals.
What Can Parents Do?
Parents can give their children a wide variety of different foods and limit their children’s intake of the highest-risk baby foods, including rice, sweet potatoes, apple juice, and grape juice. Parents can also consider making their own baby food to help their children avoid heavy metals, make healthy fish choices to limit mercury, check their drinking water for lead, and cook with white basmati and sushi rice to decrease arsenic consumption.
The more natural colors parents include in their children’s diets, the better, and parents can vary the grains they feed their children, using barley, oats, and other grains besides rice. Parents should limit processed baby food and snacks, as well.
Parents also have options if their child is diagnosed with autism or ADHD after consuming baby food from leading brands. Many parents have filed lawsuits alleging that manufacturers knowingly sold baby food products containing heavy metals despite the negative health outcomes.
At Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, we can help parents evaluate their options related to these companies’ failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, negligence, and the violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
While nothing can take away the injury your child suffered, we can work to help you recover compensation for medical expenses and other losses your child may experience as a result of their diagnosis.
Manufacturers should never have put contaminated baby food products on the market and put your child in danger.
Call our firm at (502) 242-8877 or send us a message online to find out how we can help you hold these negligent manufacturers responsible for what they have done.