When the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released its report on heavy metals in baby food earlier this year, parents rightfully wondered whether the federal government would step in and address this serious issue. According to the report, several major baby food brands contain dangerously high levels of inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
The shocking data prompted Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) to introduce the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021. If passed, the bill would enact sweeping reforms designed to curb the toxic presence of heavy metals in baby foods.
According to the government report ‘Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury,’ some baby foods have as much as 129 parts per billion (ppb) arsenic and 352 ppb lead, and over 2 ppb mercury. Some baby food manufacturers use ingredients that contain as much as 309 ppb arsenic, 200 ppb lead, and 260 ppb cadmium, far eclipsing regulatory standards.
By way of comparison, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the maximum allowable levels of heavy metals in bottled water at 10 ppb inorganic arsenic, 5 ppb lead, and 5 ppb cadmium, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caps the allowable level of mercury in drinking water at 2 ppb.
The subcommittee concluded that “[m]anufacturers knowingly sell these products to unsuspecting parents, in spite of internal company standards and test results, and without any warning labeling whatsoever.”
Why We Need Legislation to Regulate Heavy Metals in Baby Foods
The FDA and the World Health Organization say that arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are dangerous to human health. This danger is heightened for babies and children, who are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of heavy metals.
Numerous studies have found that exposure to high levels of heavy metals can substantially contribute to the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Even at low levels, toxic metals exposure can cause permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children.
After news of the toxic baby food report spread in early 2021, parents throughout the country decided to take legal action by filing lawsuits against baby food manufacturers, alleging toxic exposure to certain baby foods substantially contributed to children developing lifelong brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Details of the Baby Food Safety Act
As noted above, the FDA and the EPA regulate the levels of heavy metals allowed in bottled water. Curiously, despite the risks heavy metals pose to babies and infants, there is no existing law or regulation limiting the levels of heavy metals in baby food.
Lawmakers introduced the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 to change that. The bill would require baby food companies and the FDA to:
- Set maximum levels for heavy metals in baby food. Manufacturers will need to meet the following thresholds within one year.
- Arsenic – 10 ppb (15 ppb for cereal)
- Lead – 5 ppb (10 ppb for cereal)
- Cadmium – 5 ppb (10 ppb for cereal)
- Mercury – 2 ppb
- Require heavy metals levels to be lowered further within two years through FDA guidance and again after three years through regulation.
- Require baby food companies to test their final products – not just ingredients in isolation – for heavy metals. Testing ingredients only, significantly underestimates the actual levels of heavy metals in the finished product sold in stores.
- Require baby food companies to share product testing results online twice every year.
- Establish a public awareness campaign through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussing the dangers posed by heavy metals in baby food.
- Authorize $50 million for research on ways to reduce toxic heavy metals in crops.
Parents depend on baby foods sold in stores to be safe and healthy. If the bill passes, the Baby Food Safety Act will help reduce heavy metals in baby foods, raise awareness on the dangers of heavy metals, and invest in agricultural methods to reduce any economic barriers to making baby food safer.
Toxic Heavy Metals | Autism and ADHD
The national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman represents hundreds of parents throughout the country in legal cases against several leading baby food manufacturers. If your child developed autism or ADHD after consuming baby foods from Happy Family Organics, Happy Baby, Gerber, Earth’s Best Organic, Beech-Nut, Plum Organics, Parent’s Choice, and Sprout Organic Food, you may have a claim.
Contact us today or call (855) 948-5098 for a free and fast case evaluation.