Consumers who allege that Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. failed to disclose the presence of heavy metals in their baby foods earned a significant legal victory last week.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated class action allegations against Beech-Nut, ruling that the litigation should not have been dismissed while awaiting regulatory action from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on heavy metals in baby food.
In 2023, a district court dismissed the litigation in lieu of regulatory action from the FDA, which announced the “Closer to Zero” action plan to establish limits for heavy metals in baby food products. At the time of the district court’s decision, the FDA intended to limit lead in baby foods and propose limits for other toxic metals by April 2024.
Because the agency has not met these deadlines, the appeal’s court said deferring to the FDA would unnecessarily prolong the legal process for parents who allege they overpaid for baby food products contaminated with lead, arsenic, and other toxic heavy metals. Per the order, the “potential costs resulting from these indefinite delays outweigh any possible benefits that could be obtained from deferring to the agency.”
This decision is particularly significant considering the pervasive problem of heavy metals in baby food. In a Bloomberg Law investigation conducted last year, all but one of the 33 baby food brands that were tested contained at least two heavy metals.
Research has linked early life heavy metals exposure to a host of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and ADHD.
“It isn’t like this is a new issue; we have known about the presence of dangerous amounts of arsenic, lead, and mercury in baby foods for years,” says Wisner Baum baby food attorney Pedram Esfandiary. “The FDA has been very slow to adapt any meaningful regulations to combat the problem, so these court cases are a necessity to protect consumers and hold companies.”
While attorneys at Wisner Baum are not involved in the baby food class action litigation, we are in active litigation representing children who suffered brain injuries that manifested as diagnoses of autism and/or ADHD after consuming baby foods from the following brands:
- Hain Celestial Group – Earth's Best Organic
- Nurture – Happy Family Organics and Happy BABY
- Plum Organics
- Sprout Foods – Sprout Organic Food
- Walmart – Parent's Choice
Our cases alleging neurodevelopmental harm are different than the class action litigation, which seeks remuneration for the money spent on baby foods containing heavy metals. In our lawsuits, parents are seeking damages related to their child’s brain injury.
If your child sustained neurodevelopmental harm after consuming products from the brands above, you may be able to pursue compensation in a toxic baby food lawsuit. To learn more about your legal rights, call us today at (855) 948-5098 or fill out our confidential case evaluation form. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless we win your case.
Beech-Nut Class Action Part of Larger Litigation Over Heavy Metals in Baby Foods
The class action lawsuits against Beech-Nut are part of a larger wave of litigation targeting baby food companies in the wake of a U.S. House Subcommittee report in 2021. The government report revealed “dangerous amounts” of heavy metals in products from Beech-Nut and several of the top companies.
Among the seven brands listed in the government report, Beech-Nut stood out as one of the worst offenders, surpassing all others in terms of lead and arsenic contamination.
The government report found the following heavy metals in Beech-Nut baby foods:
- As high as 913.4 ppb in raw ingredients
- Over 300 ppb in additives
- Used ingredients that tested as high as 886.9 ppb of lead
- Over 480 ingredients contained over 5 ppb of lead
- 89 tested at over 15 ppb of lead
- 57 that contained over 20 ppb of lead
- Beech-Nut told government investigators that it does not test for mercury in its baby food products.
Heavy metals can be particularly harmful for infants and toddlers, even at levels far below what the government found in Beech-Nut baby foods. Research has linked heavy metals exposure to high levels of arsenic, lead, or mercury to:
- Diminished IQ
- Diminished future economic productivity
- Increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children
- Increased risk of harming infant neurological development and long-term brain function
The Attorneys General of Washington D.C. and New Mexico have brought litigation against Beech-Nut over the presence of heavy metals in products. Washington D.C. Attorney General, Karl Racine, filed a complaint under the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), to raise concerns over Beech-Nut's failure to adequately test finished baby food products for toxic metals. It also accused the company of solely testing individual baby food ingredients, rather than the final products that reach store shelves.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Baldaras took similar legal action against Beech-Nut and other baby food manufacturers and retail chains, alleging violations of the state's Unfair Practices and False Advertising Acts and public nuisance statutes. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence, failure to warn, and design and manufacturing defects.
Beech-Nut Baby Foods With Heavy Metals
Testing from Healthy Babies Bright Futures and Consumer Reports found high levels of at least one toxic metal in the following Beech-Nut products:
- Beech-Nut Naturals Sweet Potato Jar
- Beech-Nut Classics Mixed Vegetables Stage 2
- Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Carrots
- Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potatoes Stage 2
- Beech-Nut Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal
- Beech-Nut Organics Just Carrots
In 2021, Beech-Nut issued a voluntary baby food recall for its infant rice cereal after testing found arsenic in infant rice cereal products that surpassed the FDA’s maximum allowable limit of 100 parts per billion. This was reportedly the first-ever infant rice cereal recall over high levels of arsenic. With the recall announcement, Beech-Nut also said the company would no longer sell infant rice cereal.
You may be wondering about what baby foods are better options when it comes to limiting exposure to heavy metals. We have a blog that goes into great detail about baby foods without heavy metals. We also recommend reviewing information from the Clean Label Project, which does a nice job highlighting products to include in your child’s diet as well as products to avoid.
Baby Food Attorneys Pursuing Lawsuits Against Beech-Nut
Our law firm is filing baby food lawsuits alleging Beech-Nut and other companies knowingly sell products with dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury. Studies show that these toxic metals are severe neurotoxins that can substantially contribute to lifelong neurodevelopmental disorders and brain damage in children.
If your child developed autism or ADHD after consuming substantial amounts of Beech-Nut products, you may qualify for a lawsuit. Pursuing legal action against Beech-Nut can help you recover damages for health care costs and other expenses incurred due to your child’s diagnosis.
To speak with a baby food attorney about your case, give us a call today at (855) 948-5098. We offer free and confidential case evaluations.