House Subcommittee Report Shows Heavy Metals in Baby Food Products

According to a staff report released on Thursday by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) top baby food companies produce and sell baby foods that are “tainted with dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals that endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function.” 

The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform press release said that its subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, led by Krishnamoorthi, completed an investigation that found dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in baby foods. These substances have been determined to be harmful to human health, particularly to babies and children, by the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. 

In developing the report, the Subcommittee requested internal documents and results from testing from seven of the largest baby food manufacturers. Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain Celestial Group, and Gerber responded to the requests and told the committee what happened when tests showed that products exceeded internal testing limits. The report showed various levels of heavy metals in products from each of the companies. 

Walmart’s Parent Choice brand, Sprout Foods, and Campbell reportedly “refused to cooperate with the investigation.” The subcommittee explained that it “is greatly concerned that their lack of cooperation might be obscuring the presence of even higher levels of toxic heavy metals in their baby food products than their competitors’ products.” 

The committee’s press release stated that the investigation found flaws in the baby food industry’s methods of self-regulation with each manufacturer setting its own standards for heavy metal levels and that internal standards are “routinely” ignored. The manufacturers reportedly test only ingredients before they are processed in many circumstances, which conceals levels in the baby food products they sell. 

Rep. Krishnamoorthi said, “consumers mistakenly believe that these companies would not sell unsafe products. The Subcommittee’s staff report found that these manufacturers knowingly sell baby food containing high levels of toxic heavy metals. I hope companies will commit to making safer baby foods. Regardless, it’s time that we develop much better standards for the sake of future generations.”

According to Krishnamoorthi, these manufacturers do not provide any warning labels. The subcommittee in its report recommended mandatory testing for finished products, food labels being required to report heavy metal levels, asking manufacturers to find substitutions for ingredients with high levels of toxic metals, uniform standards for the industry set by the FDA, and that parents should avoid baby foods with high levels of heavy metals like rice products. 

“Baby food manufacturers hold a special position of public trust,” the report said. “Consumers believe that they would not sell products that are unsafe. Consumers also believe that the federal government would not knowingly permit the sale of unsafe baby food. As this staff report reveals, baby food manufacturers and the Trump administration’s federal regulators have broken the faith.”