Severe Autism and Tainted Baby Food

Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP Product Liability Attorneys

In February 2021, the US House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Committee on Oversight and Reform published a staff report on findings linking certain popular baby food brands with toxic chemicals that may cause severe autism and ADHD.

Specifically, the Report investigated certain heavy metals such as inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in relation to baby food products marketed and sold in the United States. According to the Report,

“On November 6, 2019, following reports alleging high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby foods, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy requested internal documents and test results from seven of the largest manufacturers of baby food in the United States, including both makers of organic and conventional products:

  • Nurture, Inc. (Nurture), which sells Happy Family Organics, including baby food products under the brand name HappyBABY
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company (Beech-Nut)
  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Hain), which sells baby food products under the brand name Earth’s Best Organic
  • Gerber
  • Campbell Soup Company (Campbell), which sells baby food products under the brand name Plum Organics
  • Walmart Inc. (Walmart), which sells baby food products through its private brand Parent’s Choice
  • Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods)

Four of the companies—Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain, and Gerber—responded to the Subcommittee’s requests. They produced their internal testing policies, test results for ingredients and/or finished products, and documentation about what the companies did with ingredients and/or finished products that exceeded their internal testing limits. Walmart, Campbell, and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate with the Subcommittee’s investigation. The Subcommittee 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 Subcommittee found that all the responding companies had arsenic, lead and cadmium in their baby food products. The presence of mercury was present in foods in which companies specifically tested for mercury.

The Subcommittee concluded that commercial baby foods are tainted with significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Exposure to toxic heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children. Toxic heavy metals endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function.

Furthermore, the House Subcommittee found that the Trump Administration ignored a secret industry presentation to federal regulators revealing increased risks of toxic heavy metals in baby foods. Additionally, present testing of baby food products is woefully inadequate to detect and determine the extent to which baby food products may be a danger to infants.

The Subcommittee makes the following recommendations:

  • Mandatory testing—Baby food manufacturers should be required by FDA to test their finished products for toxic heavy metals, not just their ingredients;
  • Labeling—Manufacturers should by required by FDA to report levels of toxic heavy metals on food labels;
  • Voluntary phase-out of toxic ingredients—Manufacturers should voluntarily find substitutes for ingredients that are high in toxic heavy metals, or phase out products that have high amounts of ingredients that frequently test high in toxic heavy metals, such as rice;
  • FDA standards—FDA should set maximum levels of toxic heavy metals permitted in baby foods. One level for each metal should apply across all baby foods. And the level should be set to protect babies against the neurological effects of toxic heavy metals; and•
  • Parental vigilance—Parents should avoid baby foods that contain ingredients testing high in toxic heavy metals, such as rice products. Instituting recommendations one through four will give parents the information they need to make informed decisions to protect their babies.

Severe Autism and Heavy Metals

The National Institutes of Health found that baby teeth from children with autism contain more toxic lead and less of the essential nutrients zinc and manganese, compared to teeth from children without autism, according to an innovative study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers studied twins to control genetic influences and focus on possible environmental contributors to the disease. The findings, published June 1 in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that differences in early-life exposure to metals, or more importantly how a child’s body processes them, may affect the risk of autism.

The FDA and EPA allow drinking water to contain inorganic arsenic at 10 parts per billion (ppb), lead at 5 ppb, cadmium at 5 ppb, and mercury at 2 ppb. The heavy metals baby food report found up to 177 times more than the acceptable level of lead, up to 91 times more than the acceptable level of arsenic, up to 69 times more than the acceptable level of cadmium, and up to 5 times more than the acceptable level of mercury.

Get Started On Your Case Today

Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin, LLP is presently investigating claims against the manufacturers of tainted baby foods. If your child or a loved one has been diagnosed with severe autism and genetic causes of autism have been ruled out by a medical professional, you may have a claim. However, you must be able to provide documentary evidence of purchase of one of the suspected brands of baby food.

Please contact us today for free initial case evaluation.

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