Following reports that alleged that popular baby foods contained unsafe levels of toxic heavy metals, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy requested test results and internal documents from seven of the United State’s largest baby food manufacturers.
Four of the companies — Nurture (HappyBABY and Happy Family Organics), Beech-Nut, Hain Celestial Group (Earth’s Best Organics), and Gerber — responded to the subcommittee’s request. The others — Wal-Mart (Parent’s Choice), Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics), and Sprout Organic Foods — refused to cooperate with the investigation. The findings revealed food from all four of the complying companies contained significant levels of toxic heavy metals.
Which Products Had Heavy Metals?
The test results and internal company documents revealed that all four responding companies’ – Nurture (HappyBABY and Happy Family Organics), Beech-Nut, Hain Celestial Group (Earth’s Best Organics), and Gerber – baby foods contained arsenic, lead, and cadmium. Nurture (HappyBABY) was the only company that tests for Mercury, with test results showing unsafe levels. Products containing heavy metals include:
Nurture (HappyBaby and Happy Family Organics)
Over 25% of Nurture’s baby food products that were sold tested for inorganic arsenic levels above 100 parts per billion (ppb). A list of the products can be found on page 14 of the Congressional Report. Of the company’s 206 finished products it tested for lead, 16 registered over the EU’s lenient 20 ppb standards (page 23). 65% of Nurture’s finished baby food products (page 31) tested for more than 5 ppb cadmium, the EPA limit for drinking water. The company sold 56 products that exceeded the EPA’s mercury standard (page 32).
Beech-Nut does not regularly test finished products for arsenic, but it does test individual ingredients. Testing data shows that at least 45 ingredients contained more than 100 ppb of arsenic, found on page 17 of the Congressional Report. 57 of the company’s ingredients contained over 20 ppb of lead (pages 23-24). Beech-Nut used twenty ingredients that tested over 100 ppb cadmium (page 29).
Hain (Earth’s Best Organics)
Hain only tested for arsenic levels in its individual ingredients. Page 16 of the Congressional Report reveals the 24 ingredients that contain more than 100 ppb of arsenic. Hain used 88 ingredients with lead levels exceeding 20 ppb (page 27). The company used 14 ingredients with more than 100 ppb cadmium (page 30).
Gerber did not provide the levels of inorganic arsenic for all of its ingredients. However, the company used 72 batches of flour that contained 90+ ppb of inorganic arsenic, listed on page 19 of the Congressional Report. Gerber produced limited lead testing results; however, its products containing sweet potatoes (page 28) showed significantly high levels of lead. 75% of the carrots Gerber used contained cadmium levels exceeding the EPA’s drinking water standards (page 32).
3 Producers Decline to Submit Documentation
Walmart (Parent’s Choice), Campbell (Plum Organics), and Sprout Organic Foods — three of the United State’s largest baby food manufacturers — refused to cooperate with the House Subcommittee’s investigative report. The subcommittee reported that none of the baby food companies produced testing results and Sprout never responded to the subcommittee’s repeated inquiries. The report states the subcommittee’s concerns that the four companies’ products might contain even higher levels of toxic heavy metals than those of their competitors who complied with the report.