In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released two shocking reports on the prevalence of such toxic heavy metals as arsenic, lead, and mercury in some of the most popular baby food brands on sale today.
The consumption of heavy metals poses a significant risk to the health of babies and young children and has been associated with such illnesses and disorders as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and attention deficit disorder (ADD), as well as a range of physical and intellectual development disorders.
To help remedy the situation and represent families who have been affected by heavy metal toxicity in baby food, law firms are already preparing mass torts and other civil actions against some of the manufacturers named in the reports. In this short guide, we’ll review the findings and the best ways for legal firms to prepare for an influx of prospective clients, as this case especially qualifies as an event that can trigger a mass tort.
Government Reports Detail Dangerous Amounts of Heavy Metals in Baby Food
The first report, released on February 4, 2021, revealed that the following manufacturers of organic and conventional brands had either exceeded testing limits for toxic heavy metals or failed to cooperate with the subcommittee’s investigation:
- Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
- Campbell Soup Company, manufacturer of Plum Organics brand
- Hain Celestial Group, manufacturer of Earth’s Best Organic brand
- Nurture Inc., manufacturer of Happy Family Organics
- Sprout Foods, Inc.
- Walmart Inc., manufacturer of Parents’ Choice
The second report, released on September 29, 2021, provides a detailed analysis of the failures of baby food industry testing standards as well as the ineffectiveness of manufacturer recalls conducted in the aftermath of its initial report. Additionally, the updated report presents findings regarding the three companies—Campbell, Walmart, and Sprout Foods—which refused to participate in its first investigation.
While only Campbell Soup Company’s Plum Organics brand tested for high levels of toxins in some of its products, Walmart and Sprout were found to have facilitated a concerning lack of safety standards in their manufacturing processes of infant foods.
The subcommittee’s initial report focused on the prevalence of lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic in the tested samples of baby food. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), these heavy metals present a tremendous risk to the health of vulnerable babies and children.
Arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium, which all rank in the top 10 of the ATSDR’s most dangerous substances, present the following risks to human health:
- Arsenic – Exposure to arsenic can lead to decreased IQ, central nervous system damage, and impaired cognitive development in young children. Arsenic exposure has also been linked to damage or impairment of the human respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, and immune systems. The House of Representatives subcommittee found arsenic was present in each of the brands that responded to its initial report. For example, Hain’s Earth’s Best Organic Brand was found to have sold baby food products containing up to 129 ppb arsenic. In comparison, the EPA’s limit for arsenic in bottled water is 10 ppb.
- Lead – According to the FDA, lead exposure can lead to learning impairment, decreased IQ, behavioral issues, and delayed puberty in children. The first report found that over 20% of tested baby food products contained over 10 ppb lead. Nurture, the manufacturer of Happy Family Organics, was found to have sold baby food products containing as much as 641 ppb lead.
- Mercury – Mercury, which ranks only behind lead and arsenic in the ATSDR’s list of dangerous substances, was found in only one of the responding manufacturer’s samples (Nurture). What is perhaps more shocking, however, is that none of the other manufacturers even test for the presence of mercury in their baby food products.
- Cadmium – Number seven on the ATSDR’s ranking, cadmium was found in each of the responding manufacturer’s samples. Gerber, for example, showed higher levels of cadmium in 75% of its carrots, including up to 87 ppb (the limit set by the government is 5 ppb). Cadmium exposure has been linked to decreased IQ and ADHD in children.
While the subcommittee’s findings are undoubtedly shocking, there may be legal recourse for families affected by the negligence of some of the nation’s largest baby food brands.
Future Participation in Mass Torts
As the government’s findings gain traction in the media, law firms have begun preparing mass torts against some of the manufacturers whose infant foods tested for higher levels of toxic heavy metals.
Parents who think their children were affected by heavy metal exposure may have a chance to present their claims to the court and eventually receive both justice and compensation.
If a baby was fed food from any of the brands named above, the following factors could be grounds for participating in a mass tort civil action:
- The child received a medical diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, cognitive impairment, or any other illness that has been associated with heavy metal exposure.
- The caregivers still have actual products containing recalled or compromised baby food.
- Caregivers held onto receipts or packaging associated with the purchase of a baby food product containing high levels of heavy metal toxicity.
While certainly not exhaustive, these factors could help determine whether a family is eligible for legal assistance.
Intake Concerned Parents With Help From Alert
Law firms who are expecting an influx of calls from parents concerned about baby foods with heavy metals may be unsure how to handle an increased volume at all times of the day and night. Likewise, caregivers are (rightfully) looking for a quick response to help them understand the reports and their options.
Don’t leave prospective claimants hanging by employing the help of a legal call center.
Alert’s legal intake and legal answering services allow you to field inquiries 24/7/265. Our staff of trained professionals are there to provide a human voice on the other end of the line, helping caregivers understand their legal recourse and helping your firm turn more leads into clients.
FDA. Lead in Food, Foodwares, and Dietary Supplements. https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/lead-food-foodwares-and-dietary-supplements
PubMed. The Science of the Total Environment. Association of arsenic, cadmium and manganese exposure with neurodevelopment and behavioural disorders in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23570911/
ScienceDirect. Environment International. Cadmium exposure and cognitive abilities and behavior at 10 years of age: A prospective cohort study. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412017321025