Baby food companies “deliberately” market products containing toxic heavy metals in an effort to “cut corners” and gain profits, said Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy (D-Ill.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. , citing a September 29 report, “Baby foods are contaminated with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.”
In a statement, the subcommittee highlighted that an FDA-funded test conducted by the state of Alaska found more inorganic arsenic than is allowed by the FDA’s limits in “multiple samples” of Beech-Nut and Gerber’s baby rice cereals.
It read that after the findings were shared, Beech-Nuts recalled two of the six products it tested over limits. Gerber had two products tested over limits, yet reportedly “took no action” to inform the public about toxic levels or to pull the product off shelves.
“Today’s report shows that companies not only report high levels of toxic ingredients in their baby food, but also intentionally market toxic products,” Krishnamurthy said in a statement. “The facts speak for themselves, and the fact remains that the baby food industry has consistently cut corners and made a profit on the health of infants and toddlers.”
In addition to Gerber’s and Beech-Nut’s findings, Plum Organics products were found to contain high levels of arsenic, as well as high levels of lead and cadmium.
These three companies represent some of the biggest companies in the sector. Consumer Reports, a nonprofit focused on corporate transparency, writes that Nestle-owned Gerber, Hero Group-owned Beech-Nut, and California-owned Plum Organics’ Sun-Made Growers were among the top seven largest producers. are one.
This is not the first time that toxic levels of the metals have been detected in baby food tests. In 2018, Consumer Reports tested 50 US baby food products for arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. Each product tested contains measurable levels of at least one of the potentially toxic metals.
In response to the report’s findings, the subcommittee recommended the FDA to fast-track its revised proposal for toxic metal limits and also require companies to conduct finished product testing. The subcommittee also called for baby food manufacturers to voluntarily test their finished products and phase out products that contain toxic levels of the metals.
“Based on the findings of my subcommittee, I am calling on the baby food industry to immediately end harmful practices and test the finished product,” Krishnamurthy wrote. “We are working closely with the FDA on the regulations, and this report highlights the need for the agency to accelerate its proposed timeline for publishing them.”
newsweek Contacted Plum Organics, but did not get any response.
Gerber sent newsweek The following statement:
“The FDA informed us of their contact with the State of Alaska about a sample of our rice cereal that tested slightly above the guidance level for inorganic arsenic set by the FDA, and was referenced in the report,” Gerber said. Wrote. “The FDA re-tested the sample, was unable to confirm the result by Alaska and confirmed to Gerber that no action was required.”
“While the subcommittee report notes proposed limits on specific heavy metals, they are based on proposed standards from the Baby Food Safety Act, which are not current legislation or regulation. All Gerber foods meet all applicable guidelines and limits and continue FDA, the governing body for safety regulations in the food industry.”
Beech-Nut shared the following comments:
“The claim that Beech-Nut’s rice cereal recall was too narrow is false. In addition to recalling affected lots, Beech-Nuts also actively withdraws all Beech-Nuts branded single grain rice cereal products from supermarket shelves. In addition, Beech-Nut has decided to exit the market for its branded baby rice products because it is concerned about being able to consistently obtain rice flour below the FDA’s guidance level.”
Updated 09/30/2021, 4:10 PM ET: This story has been updated with beech-nut comments.
Correction 09/30/2021, 4:10 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Campbell Soup Company is the owner of Plum Organics. Campbell sold Plum Organics to Sun-Med Growers of California in March 2021.