A California U.S. District Judge has refused to toss a proposed class action lawsuit against Plum Organics, an Emeryville, CA baby food producer. The suit alleges that Plum Organics failed to disclose the presence of potential toxins, including lead, metals and arsenic, in baby food.
Plum asked Judge Gonzalez Rogers to throw out the case in October, arguing that the plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by a federal report that found toxic chemicals in a number of brand-name baby foods. The report names several commercial baby food producers including Plum, Gerber, Parent’s Choice, Sprout, and Beech Nut.
The judge refused to toss the Plum Organics case on the basis that the claims are not preempted by federal law, agreeing with an opposition brief filed by plaintiffs that argues that the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act expressly exempts safety disclosures from preemption.
It is also alleged that a reasonable consumer could be duped by Plum Organics’ safety disclosure omissions, another reason the judge has refused to throw out the suit.
Plum Organics’ legal team has been arguing that the issues involving the disclosure of potentially toxic contaminants should be left to regulators like the FDA, and not hashed out in court. The judge replied by saying they have previously dealt with other cases while the FDA was handling labeling issues and this one was no different.
The judge has said plaintiffs have the stronger argument in the case, and the defense is attempting to have the case thrown out based on facts that should be sorted out in future proceedings.
Toxic baby food and formula has become a topic of increasing concern in the past year. With numerous lawsuits and research finding dangerous levels of heavy metals, lead, arsenic, and other contaminants in popular brands, experts are concerned that the problem could be much more widespread than previously thought.