Oversight Subcommittee Staff Report Reveals Alarming Levels of Toxic Heavy Metals in Even More Baby Foods

Sep 29, 2021
Press Release
Chairman Krishnamoorthi Slams Industry’s Failure to End Harmful Practices, Recall Toxic Products

Washington, D.C. (September 29, 2021)— Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, released a new staff report showing high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby food and the industry’s failure to end harmful practices that pose serious health risks to babies and toddlers.  The report also put forth recommendations for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the baby food industry to eliminate toxic content in baby foods.


Subcommittee Chairman Krishnamoorthi issued the following statement:


“My Subcommittee’s investigation has pulled back the curtain on the baby foods industry, and each revelation has been more damning than the last.  Today’s report reveals that companies not only under-report the high levels of toxic content in their baby food, but also knowingly keep toxic products on the market.  The facts speak for themselves, and the fact of the matter is that the baby food industry has consistently cut corners and put profit over the health of babies and children. 


“Based on my Subcommittee’s findings, I’m urgently calling on the baby food industry to immediately end harmful practices and conduct finished-product testing.  We have been working closely with FDA on regulations, and this report highlights the need for the agency to accelerate its proposed timeline for publishing them. 


“As a parent, my first priority as Subcommittee Chair is to protect families from consuming harmful products.  My investigation continues to reveal alarming information, but I am determined to use the facts to protect future generations.”


The Subcommittee’s investigation found:


  • Beech-Nut’s June 2021 baby food recall was incomplete, and Gerber failed to recall any of its toxic product.  FDA-funded testing conducted by the state of Alaska found that multiple samples of Beech-Nut’s and Gerber’s infant rice cereals contained more inorganic arsenic than FDA’s 100 parts per billion (ppb) limit—an already dangerously-high standard that FDA is now lowering.  Beech-Nut only recalled two of its six products that tested over the limit. Gerber was even worse—it had two products test over the 100 ppb limit and took no action to tell the public or get them off the shelves.


  • Plum Organics baby foods are tainted with high levels of toxic heavy metals.  Plum’s finished products contain up to 225 ppb inorganic arsenic.  The majority of Plum’s baby foods also contain over 5 ppb lead, and nearly 40% exceed 5 ppb cadmium.    


  • Walmart weakened its arsenic standard.  In 2018, Walmart abandoned its protective standards of a maximum inorganic arsenic limit of 23 ppb, quadrupling its standard to 100 ppb without any justification.  The decision was an extreme course reversal on efforts to protect babies’ neurological development. 


  • The industry still refuses to test its finished products for heavy metals, despite knowing its ingredient testing method undercounts heavy metals.  Beech-Nut’s ingredient testing failed to detect the toxic baby food that it was forced to recall after finished product testing showed that it exceeded 100 ppb inorganic arsenic.  Sprout’s testing practices appear to be even more reckless, as they allow their ingredient manufacturers to test only once a year and do not test their finish products. 


Based on the investigation’s findings, the Subcommittee staff report recommended:


  • FDA should accelerate its proposed timelines for publishing final limits for these toxic heavy metals and require companies to conduct finished-product testing.
  • Baby food manufacturers should voluntarily adopt the practice of testing their finished products for toxic heavy metals.
  • Baby food manufacturers should phase out products that have high amounts of ingredients that frequently test high in toxic heavy metals, such as rice.


Click here to read the Subcommittee’s staff report.

117th Congress