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FDA Urges Top Manufacturers to Reduce Lead in Baby Foods, Pronto.

By January 27, 2023February 14th, 2024Baby Food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just released the following statement to baby food manufacturers: “FDA Announces Action Levels for Lead in Categories of Processed Baby Foods.” The directive signals a shift toward stricter monitoring of heavy metals in packaged baby foods made and marketed by top brands, which have been conclusively linked with autism (Autistic Spectrum Disorder, or ASD) in children.

The injunction is partly in response to recent scientific research, including two groundbreaking Congressional studies (validated again in fall 2022), confirming heavy metals at “shockingly elevated levels” are present in 95% of tested baby food brands, including: Beechnut; Gerber; Hain Celestial (Earth’s Best Organic); Nurture (Happy Family, Happy Baby); Plum Organics; Sprout Organic Food; Walmart (Parent’s Choice), and others.

While it is true that modern medicine identifies cases of developmental autism earlier and more accurately, the rate of autism in America is 1/44 compared to 1/00 in other industrialized countries, with a startling U.S. increase of 178 percent since 2000. Congress has openly alerted parents to the potential danger of contaminated processed baby foods.

“The problem is pervasive. All but one of 33 baby food products recently purchased by Bloomberg Law and tested by an accredited laboratory were found to contain at least two of three heavy metals: lead, arsenic, and cadmium.” – Bloomberg, January 5, 2023

In April 2021, the FDA released its comprehensive action plan, “Closer to Zero,” pledging to gradually phase out heavy metals “as close to zero” as possible, structured in four phases: evaluate, propose, consult, finalize.

The new proposed draft guidance (also referred to as IRL, or interim recommended level) assures families of the agency’s resolve to manage an ongoing crisis. “Closer to Zero,” outlines a timeline to lower heavy metal limits by 2024 and beyond, including foods packaged in jars, pouches, tubs, and boxes.

Is It Progress?

Yes. Though draft guidance isn’t mandatory without final enforcement, the move is a step in the right direction, turning up the heat on manufacturers to incorporate more selective sourcing of farmland and water, SOON. Ditto for updated IRLs: they are not binding, but the FDA says it has authority to hold companies liable for non-compliance. [Note: The baby food industry is historically self-regulated and the “Food” classification doesn’t require the same scrutiny as drugs and medical devices before landing on shelves.]

“Our action is yet another step as part of a broader effort, led by the FDA’s Toxic Elements Working Group, to identify, target and prioritize agency efforts to reduce exposure to toxic elements from food, especially in people most vulnerable to the health effects of toxic elements in food, including infants and children.”

– FDA, January 24, 2023

The recently established baby food lawsuit provides a legal pathway for parents to seek justice if their child has been harmed by routine consumption of contaminated products and alleges manufacturers knew about unregulated toxic metals for decades. The announcement draws a new line in the sand urging manufacturers to adopt more selective sourcing when negotiating partnerships with farmers, farmland, and farm water.

A Case for Women will continue urging mandatory final enforcement on manufacturers, sooner than later. With our law partners, we have launched a full baby food and autism campaign, supporting the right of affected families to file charges against baby food manufacturers who make and market food products teeming with toxic heavy metals – inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury – that could cause developmental damage to young children.

The baby food lawsuit is expanding and our lawyers are now building up cases against the following top brands: Beechnut; Gerber; Hain Celestial (Earth’s Best Organic); Nurture (Happy Family, Happy Baby); Plum Organics; Sprout Organic Food; Walmart (Parent’s Choice) and others.

If you suspect your little one has been harmed by prolonged consumption of processed baby foods found that contain elevated levels of dangerous heavy metals, we want to hear from you. Contact our team now to see if you’re eligible to participate in the baby food lawsuit.