In early February 2021, the Senate Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a report revealing that many brands of baby food contain dangerously high levels of heavy metals. Following this shocking news, many parents are joining a Beech-Nut baby food lawsuit, a Gerber baby food lawsuit, and other civil actions against companies that produced these contaminated products.
The report described how baby food companies knowingly sold products containing high levels of toxic heavy metals. The conclusions outlined in the report include:
Heavy metals are present in the environment as part of the earth’s crust. Pollution and mining can release them into the air or water, and then onto growing fields. Metals in food can also come from packaging materials or manufacturing processes.2
Heavy metals including arsenic and lead are associated with developmental problems, impacting cognition, learning, and behavior.2 No level of exposure is considered safe for infants, and exposure from several sources can cause a cumulative effect.3
Products found to contain high levels of heavy metals included baby food, juices, cereals, and sweet snack puffs. The subcommittee requested data from 7 brands of baby food, and all who supplied information were found to have “significant” levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.
Companies who shared the requested information:
Companies that refused to supply the information:
The subcommittee members expressed great concern that companies who did not cooperate with the investigation may be hiding even higher levels of heavy metal contamination than those who provided their internal testing data.4
Many individual and class action lawsuits have been filed based on the report from the Senate Subcommittee. These lawsuits allege the companies knowingly sold baby foods that have metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium, and could potentially cover any parent who purchased these baby foods in the last 5 years.
Gerber was named along with other companies in lawsuits in New York, New Jersey, and California, with more litigation planned across the country. The lawsuits reference the congressional report and allege the levels of heavy metal contamination present in Gerber baby food can endanger a child’s nervous system and brain development.
Gerber is also alleged to have used deceptive marketing practices, implying their foods were rigorously tested and free of contamination. Parents claim Gerber failed to warn them of the problem and that they would not have purchased the products had they known about the high levels of heavy metals.
Beech-Nut was also named in the Gerber suit as well as in separate lawsuits. One from New York claims Beech-Nut acted recklessly when the company intentionally mislabeled products using the phrase “real food for babies.”
Claims that the food was healthy, safe, and nutritious are intentionally misleading, according to the lawsuit. Beech-Nut failed to disclose to customers that their baby foods might exceed FDA and EPA guidance on allowable heavy metal levels.
Nurture was named in a lawsuit filed in New York for failing to inform consumers about heavy metals in their Happy Baby products. Nurture baby food was found to exceed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowable levels of arsenic for bottled water. In the absence of specific requirements for baby food, the water guidelines were used to demonstrate the high levels of heavy metals present in more than 25 percent of Happy Baby products.4
Both Nurture and the Campbell Soup Company are named in a lawsuit filed in New Jersey alleging deceptive marketing practices and the presence of “significant levels” of heavy metals in their products. According to the lawsuit, Campbell’s Plum Organics brand of baby food was deceptively misrepresented, and breaches its express warranty under consumer protection statutes.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, actual damages, punitive damages, and restitution from Campbell, as well as attorney’s fees. It potentially covers consumers nationwide, and specifically names individuals from Illinois, New York, and Wyoming as subclasses.5
Product liability laws are designed to protect you and your child from products that can cause serious harm. If your child has eaten baby food products in the last 5 years you may want to consider blood tests for the presence of heavy metals. Children who have been exposed to heavy metals in baby food may need special education services, medical treatment, and suffer long-term irreversible damage.
Blood tests may not be necessary to join a lawsuit for contaminated baby food, especially one based on deceptive marketing claims or mislabeling. Your child might be eligible for important financial compensation to cover medical expenses and even be awarded punitive damages intended to discourage companies from engaging in these practices.
If your child consumed these foods, it’s important to seek sound legal advice before the window of time passes to join a claim. Some of these companies will likely offer settlements to those impacted by their business decisions. In cases with documented injury to children, you may have an individual case for full compensation.
The best way to know if you should consider filing a claim against the baby food companies is to speak with an experienced product liability attorney who can evaluate your situation, look at the evidence, and advise you on next steps. Saunders & Walker P.A. has decades of experience helping individuals who have been harmed by products they purchased in good faith.
We advocate for families and individuals just like you who have been harmed by defective products or false claims. We are happy to talk by phone or email about your experiences at no cost to you. Give us a call or send an email today to find the answers you need about filing a product liability lawsuit.