Source - Food & Beverage Litigation Update | Issue 759

Congress Investigates Heavy Metals in Baby Food

A staff report from a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform has found that several baby foods contain high levels of heavy metals, including inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury. The report argues that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “has failed to confront the risks of toxic heavy metals in baby food” and has “designed these limits to be protective of industry.”

“In one category of baby food for which FDA has finalized a standard—infant rice cereal—it set the maximum inorganic arsenic content at the dangerous level of 100 ppb. Why did FDA set its level so high? Because in developing the limit, FDA was focused on the level of inorganic arsenic that would cause cancer. FDA disregarded the risk of neurological damage, which happens at a much lower level,” the report asserts.

The report notes the trust that consumers place in baby food and argues that “baby food manufacturers and federal regulators have broken the faith.”

“Step one to restoring that trust is for manufacturers to voluntarily and immediately reduce the levels of toxic heavy metals in their baby foods to as close to zero as possible. If that is
impossible for foods containing certain ingredients, then those ingredients should not be included in baby foods,” the report argues. “If certain ingredients, like rice, are highly tainted, the answer is not to simply lower toxic heavy metal levels as much as possible for those ingredients, the answer is to stop including them in baby foods. The Subcommittee urges manufacturers to make this change voluntarily.”

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