New York AG Leads Coalition Urging FDA to Protect Children From Toxic Metals in Baby Food

New York Attorney General Letitia James and an alliance of nearly two dozen attorneys general have asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to propose limits on certain toxins found in baby foods and to require food manufacturers to test for their presence. Wednesday’s petition reportedly comes in response to heightened concerns about the health hazards posed by heavy metals in these products and the failure of baby food brands and their suppliers to remediate the issue.

The petition follows a letter sent by James in February pressing the FDA to take action on the same issue. The prior request came in the wake of a U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy report finding high levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in baby foods sold by at least four of the nation’s seven largest manufacturers. The subcommittee issued a follow-up report last month and pressed the FDA to expediently set contamination limits.

The attorney general explains that though the FDA limits the presence of toxic metals in other food products like bottled water and candy, the agency has allegedly failed to successfully regulate baby foods. “This lack of oversight comes despite the fact that the FDA has concluded that babies’ and young children’s smaller body sizes and metabolisms make them more vulnerable to the harmful neurotoxic effects of these metals,” the press release says.

This week’s petition urges the FDA to issue interim heavy metal contamination limits by April 2022, the shortest timeframe for petitioning FDA action pursuant to agency regulations. Specifically, the attorneys general request that the FDA spell out interim limits for aforementioned inorganic metals in the relevant categories of infant and toddler foods, reduce the current inorganic arsenic limit for infant rice cereal, and instruct all manufacturers to test their finished products.