Newsy: Toxic Heavy Metals in Baby Food & Lawsuit Against Gerber

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Interview transcript

Okay, the new report released yesterday by the House of Representatives Economic and Consumer Policy Committee shows many baby food brands failed testing for high levels of toxic heavy metals in their food. Crazy to think about that, right? Exposure to heavy metals causes neurological disabilities and produces chronic health effects.

Yeah, the Baby Food Safety Act was introduced earlier this year to regulate it and set the standard for an industry that refuses to test finished products, that’s all according to the report. The FDA is saying the level of toxicity in infant rice cereal should actually be only 100 parts per billion. But the test showed that Plum Organics and Gerber failed by going over that 100 mark. Plum Organics was at 125 parts of arsenic over the limit, which is five times more parts per billion of lead in the food. It was also the same with cadmium in 40% of those products. Now, Gerber’s numbers aren’t any better.

For their carrots, sweet potato, pea and sweet potato, apple carrot cinnamon, there was double the amount of lead allowed for get this adult consumption by California’s regulations adult consumption. To have beech nut products. We’re also calling the question but Gerber didn’t recall any of its products. So, Ecological Alliance, a company dedicated to testing food is suing Gerber to get his product off supermarket shelves, Vineet Dubey is one of the attorneys who filed this lawsuit here to tell us about it. Vineet nice to see you. Tell us first, how alarming should this be to the many parents who are watching at home.

Good morning, and thanks for having me. The answer is, it’s incredibly alarming. It’s super alarming. I’m a parent, I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old. And it’s scary to think that you guys are the most trusted manufacturer of baby food in American history Gerber, buy one of their products, feed it to your child, and they’re consuming two to three times more lead in a day than an adult is allowed. When they’re six, seven or eight months old. It’s incredibly scary, and it should be very concerning to every parent out there.

So if any, I’m a parent as well, Dave is also in it. And look, you’re right. I mean, I listened to this and you know, my head explodes. But the truth is is, is as far as what I understand the issue isn’t just baby food. It really starts with the food supply.

It does the food supply is incredibly contaminated. We do a lot of these cases, we don’t just focus on baby food and almost everything we eat. It’s kind of scary. There’s so much lead and heavy metals in our food supply. It’s a really scary thing. Congress is action is welcomed, but it’s well overdue. This is something that Congress should have been looking into for the past 10, 20, 30, 50 years. Think about how many hundreds of 1000s of kids in that time, have potentially been poisoned by lead. It’s a scary issue. We’re bringing these lawsuits on a small scale to try to change it where we can. But we really need the federal government to step in and take some serious action on this.

Vineet, what has their reaction been Gerber’s? And why does the FDA not regulate lead in our baby’s food?

It’s a very question. It’s one that I’m completely shocked by as well about the FDA, they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel and it’s insane. They deal with so many different issues. But what’s more important than lead in our baby food to protect our children. You know, when when a child is exposed to lead, it affects every aspect of their neurological development, their IQ, their intelligence, their sight, their hearing, there’s nothing more important than making sure that kids aren’t exposed to lead. So the FDA has been asleep at the wheel for years, potentially, it’s lobbying by these huge companies. I don’t have the answer to that, unfortunately. But I’m glad they’re finally looking at the issue and they need to step up right now. This bill says within the next three to five years, they’re going to enact standards. I mean, that should happen next year, in 3 to 5 years, think about how many hundreds of 1000s of children can potentially be lead poison.

So Vineet, I know that you’ve seen many of these cases, you’ve dedicated your life to this, frankly, as an environmental attorney. Let’s just be honest here, what do you expect to see from Gerber?

Well, what we’re looking for Gerber to take these products off the shelves, institute a testing program to make sure that if they’re going to sell them again in California, they must have less than five parts per billion lead in these products. And that’s lower than what Congress is looking for. That’s lower than the standard set. So we’re gonna litigate it and we’re gonna fight and we’re gonna make sure big companies like Gerber and Beech-Nut and Plum Organics, we have a current suit against Nurture Inc as well, which does happy top products. You know, we’re going to try to make sure as best as we can, that they’re not selling toxic, poisonous foods and putting them on the shelves for our children. But it has to be congressional action. I can only do so much my client can only do so much on a small scale, Congress and the FDA have got to get involved and get tough on this and really regulated. I don’t think there’s anything more important than what our kids are eating what our babies and infants are eating every day.

Well, we appreciate you bringing this to audience’s attention but the question is if there’s a parent out there right now with the baby that they’re feeding Gerber food, what do you suggest for them this morning?

Stay away from anything with sweet potatoes, all of our testing and research has found that products with sweet potatoes for whatever reason, sweet potatoes just seem to suck lead out of the soil and bring it along with them into different products. So the main thing I would tell parents is stay away from sweet potatoes. Go for organic if you can. I know it’s not always affordable. I know it’s not always an option for everybody. But go for organic as well, if you can. Certified organic on the label.

Certified organic.

I’m terrified my daughter ate almost exclusively sweet potato type foods as a baby girl. So Wow.

Let me let me say one more thing. The scariest part about this is Gerber sells these on a subscription model where parents can get 10 of these every month delivered to their house. If you’re a parent, you understand, when you find a food that your six month old will eat, you’re gonna keep feeding it to them every day or every other day. If a parent fed their child 10 of these units in a month, that whole month, their child is lead poisoned that infant at one month out of his six month life has been exposed to lead. It’s insane and as a parent. Yes. What’s happening?

Yeah, absolutely

That is insane. We appreciate you being here and great to hear from you. If you’d like to come on morning rush.

In to your point Dave morning rush did reach out to Gerber first statement we have yet to hear but of course as soon as we do, we’ll bring that to you

and we welcome them on the program. This is an important story.