History of Heavy Metals in Baby Foods
Consumers were first warned that certain baby foods may be tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead in a staff report released by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on February 4, 2021. At the time of the initial report, toxic heavy metals had been discovered in several popular brands of baby food, including Gerber, Nurture, Inc., the maker of Happy Family Organics baby foods; Beech-Nut Nutrition Company; and Hain Celestial Group, Inc., the maker of Earth’s Best Organic baby foods. At the time the initial baby food report was released, three companies had failed to deliver the information and documents requested by the Subcommittee in its baby food product inquiry. These companies were Campbell, the maker of Plum Organics (Plum), Sprout Foods, Inc., and Walmart, and their failure to cooperate raised concerns about the potential presence of toxic heavy metals at levels that exceeded those found in the other companies’ products.
According to a subsequent baby food report released by the Subcommittee on September 29, 2021, Beech-Nut in June 2021 recalled some of its baby food products due to the presence of toxic heavy metals discovered by public health officials with the State of Alaska during testing that was funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the test results that prompted the recall, which were obtained by the Subcommittee, revealed unsafe levels of toxic inorganic arsenic in Beech-Nut infant rice cereal products that were not recalled by the company and in Gerber infant rice cereal products, which were also never recalled. According to the report, the inorganic arsenic levels in these baby food products exceeded the FDA’s limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb), “an already dangerously-high standard that FDA is now lowering.”