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Toxic Baby Food Lawsuit Autism & ADHD

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Baby Food Lawsuit Autism & ADHD

2023 Update

Wisner Baum represents thousands of children suffering from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder after being exposed to dangerously high levels of heavy metals in baby food products.

Our team of lawyers will lead the first baby food trial in California state court on October 4, 2023. The baby food lawsuit alleges the following companies knowingly sell products tainted with heavy metals linked to autism and ADHD:

Wisner Baum is in active litigation against the baby food companies listed above and intends to go to trial in 2023. To see if your child qualifies for a baby food lawsuit, fill out our confidential case evaluation form or call our legal team at (855) 948-5098 to schedule an appointment with a lawyer who can answer all your questions.

In 2021, a U.S. Congressional Subcommittee reported that numerous popular baby food products, including infant rice cereal, teething biscuits, purees, rice cakes, and others, contain “dangerously high levels” of arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium. Shockingly, Happy Family Organics, Gerber, Hain Celestial (Earth’s Best Organic), Beech-Nut, Plum Organics, Walmart (Parent’s Choice), and Sprout Organic Food knowingly sold tainted baby food to unsuspecting parents, according to the report.

Numerous studies have linked toxic heavy metal exposure to behavioral impairments. The link is especially pronounced among babies and young children, whose brains are still developing. Even at low levels, exposure to heavy metals can cause severe and irreversible damage to neurological development in children. As one recent study observed:

“[t]he implications of heavy metals with regards to children’s health have been noted to be more severe compared to adults. The elements’ harmful consequences on children’s health include mental retardation, neurocognitive disorders, behavioral disorders, respiratory problems, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Much attention should be given to heavy metals because of their high toxicity potential, widespread use, and prevalence.”

The Wisner Baum law firm is filing baby food lawsuits that accuse Gerber, Hain Celestial, Walmart, Plum Organics, and other companies of knowingly selling baby foods with dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. These metals are severe neurotoxins capable of substantially contributing to lifelong brain damage and neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

If your child developed ASD or ADHD after consuming substantial amounts of rice cereal, puffs, purees, or other baby foods from the companies listed above, you may be eligible to pursue justice and compensation in a baby food lawsuit. Filing a legal claim against these companies can help pay for health care costs and expensive therapy sessions associated with your child’s diagnosis.

We are currently evaluating claims for children diagnosed with severe ADHD 15 years old and younger; for Autism 10 years old and younger. Please call us toll free at (855) 948-5098 to see if you may qualify for legal action.

Join the Lawsuit Against Baby Food Companies

Injury attorneys from the national law firm of Wisner Baum are in active litigation against several major baby food companies that knowingly sell products with dangerous amounts of heavy metals. We are outraged by the recklessness these companies demonstrate by continuing to sell tainted foods and intend to hold them accountable in lawsuits.

If you purchased the baby foods from Happy Family Organics, Happy Baby, Gerber, Earth’s Best Organic, Beech-Nut, Plum Organics, Parent’s Choice, Walmart, or Sprout Organic Foods and your child later was later diagnosed with ASD or ADHD, our firm is interested in pursuing justice and maximum compensation on your behalf.

“The level of exposure to heavy metals known to be safe for babies is literally zero. These companies knew their products were toxic and they knew that if they told parents the truth, no one would ever buy tainted baby food. Concealing the known dangers of your products and profiting at the expense of your customers is already reprehensible. When you consider the customers in this case are kids, it doesn’t get much worse than that.” Attorney Pedram Esfandiary

Wisner Baumis an award-winning plaintiff law firm that has obtained some of the largest personal injury and wrongful death verdicts and settlements in recent history. Established in 1973, the firm has won numerous awards and recognition for its groundbreaking trials and verdicts, including the first three successful Roundup cancer trials against Monsanto, resulting in $2.42 billion. Their historic legal victories have earned the firm major awards, including Law360’s Regional Powerhouse award and Product Liability Practice Group of the Year. The National Law Journal has twice awarded them with Elite Trial Lawyers Trial Team of the Year and inducted them into the Verdicts Hall of Fame. Wisner Baum is also listed in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” and has maintained an AV® preeminent peer-review rating by Martindale-Hubbell for decades. In total, the firm has won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements.

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Baby Food Lawsuit Update 2023

March 16, 2023: The Cantabrana baby food trial, which was scheduled to begin in May, has been moved to October 4, 2023. This will likely be the first baby food autism lawsuit to go before a jury in California state court.

More and more parents throughout the country are filing lawsuits against Gerber, Hain (Earth’s Best Organic), Walmart, and other baby food companies alleging exposure to heavy metals in certain baby foods caused their children to develop autism or ADHD. As of March 2023, Wisner Baum represents over 3,000 clients in the toxic baby food litigation.

January 5, 2023: Bloomberg Law interviewed Wisner Baum baby food lawyer Pedram Esfandiary and client Melissa Cantabrana about the upcoming trial in May 2023. It will be the first baby food autism lawsuit to go before a jury. According to Esfandiary, baby food companies like Gerber, Earth’s Best Organic, Happy Family Organics, and others need to be taken to court to force change in the industry. “I really want justice for my son, for my family,” Melissa Cantabrana said in the article. “I want them to pull the baby foods off the shelves.”

December 19, 2022: Spectrum News spoke with baby food attorney Pedram Esfandiary and our client, Melissa Cantabrana, about the upcoming baby food trial in 2023. Cantabrana detailed her experience after her son, Noah, was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. She connected the dots to his diagnosis after reading the Congressional report released in 2021 that noted, “commercial baby foods are tainted with significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury,” and that “toxic heavy metals endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function.” In the interview, Cantabrana said she and her husband want the baby food manufacturers named in their lawsuit to take responsibility for their actions. She added that while it’s hard watching her son struggle at times, sprinkled among the tough days, there are good ones.

“My son is an amazing little boy and from one day to the next, you don’t really know what you are going to get. But you know, we take it and we are here for him.”

October 17, 2022: Wisner Baum baby food lawyers Pedram Esfandiary and R. Brent Wisner will serve as co-lead counsel in the first baby food lawsuit to go to trial on May 2, 2023. Wisner Baum represents plaintiffs Melissa and Lorenzo Cantabrana in the case of N.C., a minor, v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc. et al., Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles (Case No. 21STCV22822). This is the first personal injury lawsuit filed related to heavy metals in baby food. It will also be the first baby food lawsuit to proceed to trial.

August 19, 2022: Lawyers filed a Gerber class action lawsuit alleging the brand misbranded over 50 baby and infant foods by including content claims on product labels that are “strictly prohibited” by the FDA. The Gerber class action claims that the company’s “deceptive and unlawful practices in labeling and marketing the Gerber brand baby and toddler food products” misled parents into believing that certain Gerber foods provide health benefits for children under the age of two when the products are actually “harmful both nutritionally and developmentally” for this age demographic. The Gerber products listed in the class action complaint include:

  • Lil’ Crunchies
  • Lil’ Snacks
  • Meal Time for Toddler
  • Natural for Baby Pouches
  • Natural for Toddler Pouches
  • Organic for Baby Pouches
  • Organic for Toddler Plant-Tastic Pouches
  • Organic for Toddler Pouches
  • Snacks for Baby – Wonder Foods
  • Snacks for Toddler – Grow Strong

If the class action against Gerber is certified, it will include individuals who purchased select Gerber food products between August 18, 2018 and the present.

August 11, 2022: Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), a consumer advocacy group that helped expose the heavy metals in baby foods issue, has released a new report. HBBF tested 288 baby foods and analyzed more than 7,000 additional food testing data from studies. According to the report, 94% of all foods tested contained detectable amounts of toxic heavy metals.

The HBBF report noted that rice cakes and crisp rice cereal were the most heavily contaminated with arsenic among all foods tested. Per the report, these 10 baby foods are the most contaminated with toxic metals (in order of most contaminated):

  • Rice Cakes
  • Crisped Rice Cereal
  • Rice Puffs
  • Brown Rice
  • Rice Teething Biscuits and Rusks
  • White Rice
  • Raisins
  • Teething Crackers (Non-Rice)
  • Granola Bars with Raisins
  • Oat-Ring Cereal

These 10 baby foods are the least contaminated with toxic metals (in order of least contaminated):

  • Bananas
  • Grits
  • Branded Meats
  • Butternut Squash
  • Lamb
  • Apples
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Oranges
  • Watermelon

What Are Heavy Metals?

Heavy metals—including lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic—are toxic environmental pollutants that enter our food supply chain via contamination of soil, water, and air; improper waste disposal; chemical fertilizer; pesticides; and the use of other materials.

Heavy metals in foods pose a threat to public health, especially for vulnerable young children because they consume more food in relation to their body weight and absorb metals more readily than adults. According to Linda McCauley, who studies environmental health effects as Dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, “[n]o level of exposure to these metals has been shown to be safe in vulnerable infants.” McCauley adds that exposure from several sources of toxic heavy metals can cause cumulative effects that are particularly dangerous for babies.

Heavy Metals Side Effects

Arsenic: Linked to bladder and lung cancer; damage to the central nervous system, brain development, and cognitive development; immunological effects; IQ deficit (specifically verbal, performance and memory); ASD; decrease in global motor, gross motor, and fine motor.

Cadmium: Linked to decreases in IQ; development of ASD and ADHD.

Lead: Linked to behavioral problems; ASD; decreased cognitive performance; delayed puberty; reduced postnatal growth; damage to central nervous system and brain development; adverse effect on academic achievement; with lower reading and math scores; significant association with ADHD.

Mercury: Linked to adverse subsequent neuro-development; ASD; poorer estimated IQ; positively associated with autistic behaviors among preschool children.

Toxic Heavy Metals Pose a “Major Public Health Concern” for Babies and Children

Public health agencies and medical professional organizations agree that exposure to toxic heavy metals is particularly dangerous for young children:

Heavy metals pose a “major public health concern” for children. --World Health Organization (WHO)

Heavy metals “may build up in biological systems and become a significant health hazard.” Noticeable consequences of exposure could be delayed for years. --Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Arsenic is number one among environmental substances that pose the most significant potential threat to human health, followed by lead (second), mercury (third), and cadmium (seventh). --Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

No level of exposure to these heavy metals has been shown to be safe in children. --American Academy of Pediatrics

US Government Finds “Dangerous Amounts” of Heavy Metals Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, and Arsenic in Baby Food

The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has issued multiple shocking reports on heavy metals in baby food. In February of 2021, the Subcommittee’s report ‘Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury’ detailed staggering levels of toxic metals in baby foods.

According to the February 2021 report, Nurture (Happy Family Organics and HappyBABY), Beech-Nut, Hain Celestial Group (Earth’s Best Organic), Plum Organics, Walmart (Parent’s Choice), Sprout Foods, and Gerber knowingly sell baby foods containing as much as 180 parts per billion (ppb) inorganic arsenic, 6441 ppb lead, 10 ppb mercury, and manufacture their products using ingredients containing as much as 913.4 ppb arsenic, 886.9 ppb lead, and 344.55 ppb cadmium, far eclipsing domestic and international regulatory standards.

To put this in perspective, here are the maximum allowable limits that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are:

The FDA allows a maximum level of 5 parts per billion (ppb) lead in bottled water.

The government report found 177 times more than the acceptable level of lead in baby food products.

The FDA allows a maximum level of 10 ppb arsenic in bottled water.

The government report found 91 times more than the acceptable level of arsenic in baby food products.

The FDA allows a maximum level of 5 ppb cadmium in bottled water.

The government report found 69 times more than the acceptable level of cadmium in baby food products.

The EPA allows a maximum of 2 ppb mercury in drinking water.

The government report found 5 times more than the acceptable level of mercury in baby food products.

Baby Foods High in Heavy Metals

Multiple government reports and testing from consumer advocacy organizations found that the following products and ingredients from Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organic, Gerber, Nurture (Happy BABY), Parent’s Choice, Plum Organics, and Sprout Foods contain heavy metals.

Beech-Nut Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

  • Classics Mixed Vegetables Stage 2
  • Classics Sweet Carrots
  • Classics Sweet Potatoes Stage 2
  • Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal
  • Organics Just Carrots
  • Rice Single Grain Baby Cereal

Beech-Nut Baby Food Ingredients with Heavy Metals

  • Alpha Amylase (Enzyme)
  • Amylase (Enzyme)
  • Apricot
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • BAN 800 (Enzyme)
  • Blueberry
  • Carrots
  • Cinnamon
  • Coarse Oat Flour
  • Cumin
  • Dehydrated Potato
  • Mango
  • Oat Flour
  • Oregano
  • Organic Cinnamon
  • Organic Coriander
  • Organic Cumin
  • Organic Garlic
  • Organic Lemon
  • Organic Oat Flour
  • Organic Pears
  • Organic Prune
  • Organic Rice
  • Organic Rice Flour
  • Organic Turmeric
  • Prune
  • Prune Puree
  • Quinoa Flour
  • Rice
  • Rice Flour
  • Sebamyl 100 (Enzyme)
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • Sweet Potato
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin Mix

Gerber Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

  • Arrowroot Biscuits
  • Barley Single Grain Cereal
  • Carrot Sitter 2nd Food
  • Carrot Supported Sitter 1st Goods
  • Diced Carrots Veggie Pickups
  • Fruit & Veggie Melts Truly Tropical Blend Free
  • Multigrain Cereal
  • Oatmeal Single Grain Cereal
  • Rice Single Grain Cereal
  • Sweet Potato Sitter 2nd Foods
  • Sweet Potato Supported Sitter 1st Foods Tub
  • Whole Wheat Whole Grain Cereal

Gerber Baby Food Ingredients with Heavy Metals

  • Conventional Carrots
  • Conventional Sweet Potatoes
  • Flour Rice Long Grain
  • Grape Juice White
  • Organic Sweet Potatoes

Hain Celestial / Earth’s Best Organic Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

  • Sensitivity DHR/ARA Infant Formula with Iron
  • Sesame Street Peanut Butter Baked Corn Puffs
  • Spinach and Potato Baby Food 6 months
  • Whole Grain Rice Cereal

Hain Celestial / Earth’s Best Organic Baby Food Ingredients with Heavy Metals

  • Medium Grain Whole Rice
  • Organic Barley Flour
  • Organic Barley Malt Extract
  • Organic Blueberry Puree
  • Organic Brown Flax Milled
  • Organic Brown Rice Flour
  • Organic Butternut Squash Puree
  • Organic Cinnamon Powder
  • Organic Date Paste
  • Organic Green Lentil Flour
  • Organic Kamut Flour
  • Organic Quick Oats
  • Organic Soft White Wheat Flour
  • Organic Spelt Flour
  • Organic Yellow Split Pea Powder
  • Vitamin Pre-Mix
  • Whole Raisins

Nurture / Happy Family Organics Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

  • Apple & Broccoli Puffs
  • Banana & Pumpkin Puffs
  • Blueberry Beet Rice Cakes
  • Kale & Spinach Puffs
  • Multi-Grain Cereal
  • Organic Baby Cereal, Clearly Crafted Whole Grains
  • Organic Oats & Quinoa Baby Cereal Whole Grains with Iron
  • Organic Rice Cakes Puffed Rice Snack
  • Organic Simple Combos Apples, Spinach & Kale
  • Pea Spinach Teether Biscuit
  • Purple Carrot & Blueberry Puffs
  • Strawberry & Beet Puffs
  • Superfood Puffs - Sweet Potato & Carrot Organic Snack
  • Superfoods Puffs - Apple & Broccoli Organic Snack
  • Sweet Potato & Carrot Puffs

Plum Organics Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

  • Grow Well Muscle
  • Grow Well Tummy
  • Little Teethers Blueberry
  • Mighty Morning Bar Blueberry Lemon
  • Mighty Snack Bars Strawberry
  • Mighty Sticks Apple Carrot
  • Super Puffs Apple with Spinach
  • Super Puffs Blueberry with Purple Sweet Potato
  • Super Puffs Mango with Sweet Potato
  • Super Puffs Strawberry with Beet
  • Teensy Snacks Berry

Sprout Organic Food Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy issued a second government report on baby foods in September of 2021. In the report, the Subcommittee noted that Sprout Foods’ practices “appear to be the most reckless among baby foods sellers on the market…The handful of documents that Sprout provided displayed a lax approach to testing for toxic heavy metals in its baby foods.”

Walmart / Parent’s Choice Baby Foods with Heavy Metals

The second government report on baby foods found that Walmart (Parent’s Choice) “does not appear to conduct any testing of its baby food products for toxic heavy metals. Instead, it sets maximum toxic heavy metal levels and asks the manufacturer of Walmart’s private label to self-certify that products meet those levels.”

Other testing has found the following Walmart baby food products contain heavy metals:

  • Carrot Stage 2, 6 months (Parent's Choice)
  • Little Hearts Strawberry Yogurt Cereal Snacks Stage 3 (Parent's Choice)
  • Organic Strawberry Rice Rusks (Parent's Choice)

Baby Food Recall Announcements

Despite being called out in multiple baby food heavy metals reports, Gerber, Plum’s Organic, and other manufacturers have failed to recall products tainted with dangerous amounts of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Below we profile some of the baby food recall announcements since the heavy metals reports from 2021.

Beech Nut Recall

On June 8, 2021, Beech Nut issued a voluntary recall for its infant rice cereal because levels of arsenic in baby food products surpassed the FDA’s maximum allowable limit of 100 part per billion. In addition, Beech Nut announced that it will no longer sell infant rice cereal.

The implicated product in the 2021 Beech Nut recall is the Single Grain Rice Cereal item (UPC 52200034705) which carries the expiration date 01MAY2022 and product codes 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX. The product codes and expiration dates can be found at the bottom of Beech Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal product containers.

According to Happy Babies Bright Futures, this was the first ever recall of infant rice cereal due to high levels of arsenic.

Beech Nut’s baby food recall announcement came just a day after the Attorney General for New Mexico filed a lawsuit against Beech Nut and other companies. Like a previous complaint filed in April by Washington D.C.’s Attorney General Karl Racine, the lawsuit accuses the defendants of marketing and selling baby foods contaminated with high levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. The lawsuits seek restitution and other legal remedies for failing to warn consumers about the dangerous levels of heavy metals in baby foods.

Walmart Recall

On October 8, 2021, Maple Island, Inc., which manufactures Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal for Walmart, issued a recall on three lots. The Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal 8 oz lots subject to the recall were sold after April 5, 2021. The products listed in the October 2021 Walmart recall include:

Lot 21083 | UPC Code #00681131082907 | Best if Used by Date: JUN 24, 2022

Lot 21084 | UPC Code #00681131082907 | Best if Used by Date: JUN 25, 2022

Lot 21242 | UPC Code #00681131082907 | Best if Used by Date: NOV 30, 2022

Baby Food Lawyer Videos

This video series includes media interviews with Wisner Baum attorney Pedram Esfandiary, where he provides background on the toxic baby food litigation and answers common questions, including, “What are heavy metals and why are they in baby food?” and “Why are parents filing lawsuits over heavy metals in baby foods?

Can Baby Food Cause Autism and ADHD?

Yes, according to numerous studies linking heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury to autism and ADHD. Babies and infants are particularly sensitive to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead in baby food because their brains are still developing. Also, due to their smaller size, more of the heavy metals are absorbed into their bodies compared to adults.

Baby Food Safety Act 2021

The shocking data from the report ‘Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury,’ prompted Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) to introduce a bill called 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.

Read Wisner Baum’s Public Comment to the FDA on Heavy Metals in Baby Food

Is There a Baby Food Class Action Lawsuit?

In the days following the 2021 report, attorneys filed a baby food class action lawsuit against Plum Organics alleging the manufacturer misled consumers by marketing its line of baby food products as “made from the best ingredients.”

Plum Organics was not one of the companies that cooperated with the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy report. Nevertheless, Plum Organics was cited in the 2019 Healthy Babies Bright Futures report, which found many of the same toxic chemicals listed in the House report.

According to the baby food class action against Plum Organics, the company failed to disclose that its food products are at risk of containing “any level of heavy metals or other undesirable toxins or contaminants."

Baby food attorneys from the law firm of Wisner Baum are not involved in the class action litigation. Our firm is mounting individual baby food lawsuit cases on behalf of parents with children diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders.

A Baby Food Attorney Can Help

If your child was harmed by baby food products from Happy Family Organics (including the Happy BABY line), Gerber, Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organic, Parent’s Choice, Plum Organics, or Sprout Organic Food, our lawyers are interested in representing you in a baby food heavy metals lawsuit.

Our attorneys have earned more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements. We take pride in our approach to representing families who have suffered hardships as a result of negligence or wrongdoing. Our firm will always do what is needed to get the best resolution possible for our clients.

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