Baby food manufacturers including Gerber, Campbell’s, Beech-Nut Nutrition, Walmart, and others are facing a number of lawsuits, including 38 distinct class action lawsuits, where a few parents are filing claims on behalf of many others. According to the lawsuits, each of these companies sold baby food that tested positive for heavy metals. Heavy metals can be devastating to the mental and developmental health of babies and there is no safe level of exposure.
On March 10, a group of parents requested the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidate their cases in federal district court for the Eastern District of New York, where the first cases were filed, according to Law360. (In multidistrict litigation, or MDLs, similar federal lawsuits are handled by one judge to reduce redundancy, promote efficiency and lower costs.)
The MDL request comes after a 50-page report, “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury,” was released by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, on Feb. 4.
On March 4, Krishnamoorti along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) requested FDA assistance with legislation they’re developing to reduce heavy metals in baby food.
“The Members of Congress have drafted a bill, in consultation with leading environmental health organizations, and are requesting the FDA respond with technical guidance to strengthen the effectiveness of the legislation. Additionally, they are urging the agency to use its existing authority to regulate toxic heavy metal content in baby food to protect infant health and safety,” according to a press release.
“My investigation revealed that baby food companies were not looking out for parents and young kids the way that we all expected - instead, they were knowingly selling us tainted products,” Krishnamoorti said in the March 4 release.
The next day, on March 5, the FDA issued a statement that the agency would be taking action to reduce heavy metal contamination in baby food “as low as is reasonably achievable,” while failing to commit to setting enforceable standards.