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Consumer Alert: Parents, check your pantry for this baby food!

Investigation finds toxic metals in some popular baby food products

A government investigation revealed several major brands of baby food products contained arsenic and lead.
A government investigation revealed several major brands of baby food products contained arsenic and lead.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A government investigation revealed several major brands of baby food products contained arsenic and lead.

“I’ve been practicing medicine for 40 years and this is the most stunning report that I’ve seen in many ways,” said pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen.

Nurture Inc., known for HappyBABY products, Hain Celestial Group Inc., best-known for Earths Nest Organic, Beech-Nut nutrition group, and Gerber are the four companies who voluntarily participated in the investigation.

Three other companies, however, did not respond. They are Walmart, Sprout Foods, and Campbell Soup.

The report released Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic, and Consumer Policy Committee on Oversight and Reform showed that of the companies who participated in the investigation, all of them had products where arsenic, lead, and cadmium were present. Mercury was found in HappyBaby products, while the other three companies either never test or rarely test for the toxic metal.

“All of those metals have very significant neurotoxicity associated with them. There are in fact no ‘normal’ levels so any exposure to any levels of these heavy metals will have a significant impact,” Goldhagen said.

According to the report:

“Exposure to toxic heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children. "

“The FDA has to take more action to reduce the heavy metals in baby food,” said Consumer Reports Senior Scientist Michael Hansen.

Hansen has spent years advocating for more regulation for baby food.

“I think what was particularly upsetting is one of the companies met with the FDA in 2019, they themselves set levels for some of the ingredients like 200 parts per billion and what happened when the ingredients exceed those? They put them in their products and sold them anyway and this was all revealed to the FDA and it seems that the FDA hasn’t taken any action,” said Hansen.

Hain, which sells Earth’s Best products, released a statement saying the data “does not reflect our current practices.”

Gerber said it remains “fully committed to being industry leaders in providing safe, quality nutrition for babies.” It added that they “take many steps to minimize” the presence of heavy metals.

Happy Family Organics said the 2019 data is “not representative generally of our entire range of products at-shelf today.”

Campbell’s, which did not participate in the investigation, said, ”Heavy metals are present throughout the environment, including soil and water, these substances will be present in the food to some extent.”

Goldhagen said if you currently use any products found to contain these toxic metals to immediately throw them away.

He added that parents searching for peace of mind, should make their own baby food, so they know what their child is eating.

Click here to read the full investigation report.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.