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Contaminated Baby Food Lawsuits

Recent findings have revealed elevated levels of harmful heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, and mercury, in numerous prominent baby food brands. These toxic substances are known to induce neurological and other health issues in developing children. The ingestion of these hazardous baby foods is suspected to be associated with the onset of conditions such as ADHD and autism.

Our legal team specializing in toxic baby food cases is currently open to new claims from children who suffered injuries or negative effects due to the consumption of these unsafe baby foods. If your child was fed Gerber brand baby food or “Earth’s Best” brand baby food and subsequently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD), autism, or another form of neurological disorder, contact our product liability attorneys today. You may be eligible for financial compensation.

Heavy Metals Found in Baby Foods

In February 2021, a significant report was unveiled by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Economic and Consumer Policy. The Subcommittee Report, resulting from an extensive investigation into the safety of specific baby food brands in the U.S., disclosed alarming information. Major brands, such as Gerber and Earth’s Best, were identified as containing dangerously elevated levels of toxins, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

The Subcommittee Report emphasized the perilous nature of these heavy metals, stressing that even minimal exposure poses a serious threat to human health. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued warnings regarding the potential dangers associated with these toxic elements. For infants and young children, the risks are particularly pronounced, as research studies endorsed by the FDA indicate that neurologic damage and interference with brain development can result from exposure to these hazardous metals.

Disturbingly, the report revealed that food manufacturers, including Gerber, were aware of the presence of these toxins in their products. Instead of adhering to established safety standards, these companies opted to set their own criteria for what they deemed “safe” levels of these elements. Furthermore, the investigation uncovered a pattern of negligence, with food makers consistently disregarding their own elevated standards despite internal testing revealing excessive levels of the identified metals.

Contaminated Baby Foods May Cause Autism and Neurologic Damage

Children exposed to products from brands like Gerber and Earth’s Best may experience neurologic and developmental delays. Research studies indicate a correlation between childhood exposure to these metals and adverse effects such as brain damage, reduced intelligence, and behavioral problems. Numerous studies have even established a connection between childhood metal consumption and a significant decrease in adult IQ, along with a diminished lifetime earning capacity.

It has been known for a long time that heavy metals have toxic health effects, but a recent research has begun to show a connection between exposure to these materials and the development of autism, ADD and other neurologic disorders. Higher rates of autism have been linked to regular exposure to heavy metals during gestation, infancy and childhood.

A study from 2014 was one of the first to evaluate the impact of prenatal and early infancy exposures to mercury. The study found that mercury exposure caused a twofold increase in the risk of being diagnosed with autism or ADD. 3 years later, a very similar study on children in Korea was published and found a similar connection between exposure to mercury and autism/ADD rates.

Arsenic exposure was recently linked to higher autism rates in a meta-analysis study published in 2019 by a research team at the University of Buffalo. A more comprehensive study was published in 2020 which found the same positive association between exposure to mercury, arsenic, and cadmium during infancy and higher rates of autism.

The Risk of Toxic Metals

There’s a widely held agreement among scientists that both genetics and environmental factors play a role in the development of autism. NIH did a study in 2019 that underscore the long held view that both genetics and environmental influences are important in ASD.The NIH report the potential link between early childhood exposure to heavy metals and ASD. Moreover, on its ASD-related health and education page, the NIH mentions concerns about the effects of early exposure to heavy metals like mercury, lead, or arsenic.

This viewpoint is supported by other authoritative sources as well. For example, in August 2020, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), associated low doses of lead exposure in early childhood with a range of behavioral and developmental issues, including hyperactivity, autistic behaviors, and attention deficits.

The scientific literature backing these conclusions is extensive, encompassing epidemiological and toxicological studies that investigate the relationship between metal exposure during different stages of early development and the risk of brain injuries leading to ASD. A significant body of research from various studies worldwide supports the idea that early exposure to heavy metals can result in brain injury manifesting as ASD.

Reflecting this consensus, a group of leading scientists, physicians, and medical organizations in the U.S. issued a statement in 2016, highlighting lead and mercury as prime examples of toxic chemicals that can contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD and autism.

The Trigger: The Congressional Report

On February 4, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy published a blockbuster report revealing high levels of toxic heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, and mercury, in various commercial baby food products. This report named four companies – Hain, Gerber, Nurture, and Beech-Nut – who provided their internal testing policies and results, showing that many of their products and ingredients exceeded their own safety limits. However, three companies – Plum, Walmart, and Sprout – did not cooperate with the investigation. So the basically blew off a Congressional investigation. Process that for a second. Who does that?

The Congressional report highlighted that numerous baby food products from these companies contained significant levels of toxic heavy metals. For instance, Nurture’s baby foods were found to have high levels of inorganic arsenic, lead, and mercury. Hain, despite primarily testing ingredients rather than finished products, used components with alarmingly high levels of arsenic and lead, and didn’t bother to test for mercury. Beech-Nut used ingredients with high arsenic levels and didn’t test for mercury, leading to a voluntary recall of some products due to high arsenic levels.

Gerber was found to use high-arsenic ingredients, but rarely tested for mercury. Plum, on the other hand, provided limited information and didn’t have specific standards for mercury. Sprout and Walmart did not respond to the Congressional inquiry, but independent tests showed their products contained heavy metals. The report indicated that the levels of these metals in baby foods far exceeded the permissible levels set by U.S. regulatory agencies for adults, not infants. How do you not test for mercury when making a product for children to eat?

The report further emphasized that the companies often exceeded even their own internal limits for heavy metal content, which were already dangerously high. For example, Hain exceeded its own limits for arsenic and lead in some ingredients. Despite these findings, the companies continued to sell these products, fully aware of the high levels of toxic heavy metals they contained. This was exemplified in 2019 when Hain acknowledged the problem to the FDA but continued to use ingredients with high levels of arsenic.  How can this possibly happen?  We will get to that in a second.

Arsenic & Lead Contamination in Baby Foods

Arsenic, a highly toxic substance commonly employed as a poison, was detected in all tested baby food brands according to the Subcommittee Report. Notably, two brands, Gerber and Earth’s Best, exhibited alarmingly elevated levels that surpass the FDA’s safety standards.

The FDA has established a maximum safe level of arsenic in food or water at 10 parts per billion (“ppb”). Shockingly, Earth’s Best baby food, produced by Hain Celestial Group, Inc., was found to contain arsenic at a staggering 129 ppb – surpassing the FDA’s safe level by 13 times. Gerber brand baby foods also tested positive for high arsenic levels at 90 ppb.

In addition to arsenic, unsafe levels of lead were identified in the same two baby food brands. Earth’s Best baby food recorded 352 ppb of lead, while Gerber brand food contained 48 ppb. To put this into perspective, the FDA’s maximum safe level of lead for bottled water is set at 5 ppb. Consequently, the contaminated baby food contained lead levels that were 70 times higher than the established maximum safe level.

Contaminated Baby Food Lawsuits

The evidence revealing the contamination levels in many leading baby food brands led to an immediate round of product liability lawsuits. The lawsuits are being filed by parents who fed the contaminated baby foods to children who were later diagnosed with various neurologic and/or cognitive disorders, or developmental/behavioral conditions.

Based largely on the findings in the Subcommittee Report, the lawsuits allege that the baby food manufacturers knew that their baby food products contained dangerously high levels of toxic metals such as lead and arsenic. The claims assert that the manufacturers intentionally concealed and/or failed to disclose these contamination levels to consumers.

The plaintiffs in these cases are children who were exposed to these toxic heavy metals from consuming the defendants’ baby foods during critical developmental stages. As a result, they suffered brain injuries, leading to diagnoses of neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The connection between exposure to these metals and the development of ASD and ADHD is supported by numerous studies.

Is There a Baby Food Class Action Lawsuit?

In 2022, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejected a motion seeking to consolidate the toxic baby food lawsuits in federal courts into a new class action MDL. In January 2024, however, a new motion was filed asking the JPML to reconsider and create a new toxic baby food class action MDL in federal courts.

Who Are the Toxic Baby Food Lawsuit Defendants?

The companies involved are Gerber Products Company (owned by Nestle, Inc.), Hain Celestial, Inc.; Nurture, Inc. (owned by Danone, Inc.); Walmart, Inc.; Sprout Foods Inc.; Plum Organics (formerly owned by Campbell Soup Company); and Beech-Nut Nutrition Company.

Hire a Toxic Baby Food Lawyer

If you fed Earth’s Best, HappyBaby, Gerberor Beech Nut brand baby food products to your children and they have subsequently been diagnosed with neurologic disorders such as autism or learning disabilities, call our product liability lawyers today at 888-322-3010 or contact us online for a free consultation. We are currently seeking new toxic baby food cases from individuals who meet these criteria.