The House Monitoring and Reform Committee released a report on Wednesday saying the baby food industry knowingly underestimated the high levels of toxic heavy metals in their products and kept them on the market anyway.
Chairman of the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiOvernight Health Care – Brought to you by Indivior – Walensky gives green light for recalls Lawmakers say Biden needs to do more on global vaccines Hillicon Valley – Brought to you by Xerox – Democrats lobby FTC to resolve PLUS data privacy “crisis” (D-Ill.) Blasted the baby food industry for what he called deceptive practices.
“My subcommittee’s investigation shed light on the baby food industry, and each revelation was more damning than the last. Today’s report reveals that companies not only underestimate the high levels of toxic content in their baby foods, but also knowingly keep toxic products on the market, ”Krishnamoorthi said.
Earlier this year, the subcommittee released a report in which it found that some baby food companies “Allow dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals” such as arsenic, cadmium and lead.
Shortly after the publication of this report, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would “implement a plan to reduce toxic elements in foods for babies and young children to levels as low as reasonably possible. possible ”.
The staff report specifically looked at companies that sell the Happy Family Organics, Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, Earth’s Best Organic, and Gerber baby food lines.
The report released this week found that Beech-Nut and Gerber’s rice products contained arsenic levels exceeding the FDA limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb). Beech-Nut’s rice cereal was tested to have 125 ppb inorganic arsenic while Gerber’s rice cereal had 116 ppb inorganic arsenic.
The subcommittee found that Beech-Nut’s 2021 product recall was incomplete and said Gerber had not recalled any of its toxic products.
They recommended that the FDA speed up its timeline to set limits on toxic heavy metals and require companies to perform testing on finished products. The February report found that most baby food companies did not test their products for heavy metals, but estimated the levels based on tests performed on the ingredients.
“The toxic heavy metal testing practices used by most of the baby food industry are flawed and underestimate the toxic heavy metal content of their products,” the report said.
The subcommittee also found that Hain, the maker of Earth’s Best Organic, underestimated the level of heavy metals 100 percent of the time, with levels between 28 and 93 higher in the finished product than they estimated. depending on the ingredients.
Another company the subcommittee criticized was Sprout Foods, Inc., which only relies on its suppliers to test ingredients for heavy metals once a year, according to the report. This practice was called the “most reckless” in the industry by the report.
Besides baby food manufacturers, the subcommittee also looked at retail giant Walmart’s testing practices and said its heavy metal standards were “troubling.”
“Walmart does not appear to be testing its baby food products for toxic heavy metals. Instead, it sets maximum levels for toxic heavy metals and asks the manufacturer of Walmart’s private label to self-certify. that products meet these levels. It does not appear that Walmart collects all test data on toxic heavy metal levels in its baby foods to verify the accuracy of the certifications, “the report said.
In response to the report earlier this year, Happy Family Organics claimed not to sell any products “with ranges of contaminants outside the limits set by the FDA” and said it was “disappointed” with how the sub- committee had used the data it had provided.
The Hill has contacted the companies named in the report for a response.
When contacted for comment by The Hill, Gerber said in a statement: “Although the subcommittee report notes proposed limits for specific heavy metals, these are based on standards proposed by the Baby Food Safety Act, which is not an applicable law or regulation.All Gerber foods have and continue to meet all applicable guidelines and limits set by the FDA, the governing body of safety regulations in the food industry.
Gerber added that he was “committed to reducing the levels of heavy metals in our baby foods to the lowest possible levels.”
In response to The Hill, Beech-Nut Nutrition said the subcommittee’s characterization of its recall was “incorrect”.
“In addition to the recall of affected lots, Beech-Nut has also proactively removed all Beech-Nut brand single grain rice cereal products from supermarket shelves. Additionally, Beech-Nut has decided to exit the market for its branded infant rice products because it will be able to consistently obtain rice flour well below the level recommended by the FDA, ”said the society.
Many companies have pointed out that arsenic, a heavy metal, occurs naturally in nature and said it cannot be omitted from the food supply.