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The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy issued a report in early February that found “dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals” in several baby foods.
The report, “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury,” details dangerously high levels of heavy metals in products from:
- Nurture, which sells Happy Family Organics and the Happy Baby line of products
- Hain Celestial Group, which sells Earth’s Best Organic
- Campbell Soup Company, which sells Plum Organics
- Walmart, which sells Parent’s Choice
- Sprout Organic Food
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows drinking water to contain 10 parts per billion (ppb) inorganic arsenic, 5 ppb cadmium and 5 ppb lead. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows drinking water to contain 2 ppb mercury.
The House subcommittee report found arsenic at up to 91 times more than the acceptable level, cadmium at up to 69 times more than the acceptable level, lead at 177 times more than the acceptable level and mercury at up to 5 times more than the acceptable level.
Infants and toddlers are particularly sensitive to toxic metals because of their small size and their developing brains. Even low levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury can cause irreversible damage to neurological development.
The FDA’s regulatory presence on this serious issue is noticeably missing. With little oversight, baby food manufacturers can freely conduct heavy metals testing on ingredients in isolation, which does not provide an accurate safety profile for products sold in stores. Worse yet, most baby food companies are not required to conduct any testing whatsoever.
With no indication that companies plan to change their manufacturing processes or add warning labels to their products, legal action will be necessary to protect kids from the dangers of heavy metals in baby foods.
“If the executives of these companies enjoy eating poison, they should add it to their own food at home. They shouldn’t sell toxic heavy metals to the public by pretending it’s healthy food,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., renowned environmental attorney and chairman of Children’s Health Defense.
“They certainly should not be feeding brain-killing poison to babies. Most Americans rightfully believed that the days when Food Titans could sell contaminants disguised as food ended 115 years ago when Upton Sinclair exposed food industry corruption in his book, ‘The Jungle,’ inspiring Congress to pass the Pure Foods and Drugs Act of 1906.
“The overarching problem facing our health and our democracy is agency capture,” Kennedy said. “Over the past 40 years these Big Food and Big Drug companies have moved aggressively to gain control of the FDA and disable its regulatory function. Today, the FDA is a sockpuppet for the industries it regulates.
“The FDA no longer functions to ensure wholesome foods and protect public health. Its singular purpose is to safeguard Big Food’s and Big Pharma’s profits.The devolution of the regulatory agency has put us all back in ‘The Jungle’ where Food and Pharma are merciless, bloodthirsty amoral apex predators. The only tool we have for disciplining these rogue companies is litigation. We mean to show them the sharp ends of our spears.”