Consumer Alert: Washington DC Attorney General sues baby food maker for dangerous products

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Today’s consumer alert concerns what we feed our babies. Washington, D.C. District Attorney Karl A. Racine is taking Beech-Nut Nutrition Company to court.

He filed the lawsuit this week.

Beech-Nut’s slogan is "real food for babies." The commercials say it’s wholesome, natural and safe.

But this lawsuit contends that the baby food is anything but safe. The D.A. says that’s because it’s loaded with four dangerous heavy metals: Lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury.

These heavy metals are dangerous for all of us at high levels, but much more so for the littlest among us, causing everything from a lower I.Q. to ADHD, to increased risk of cancer. This lawsuit follows a disturbing report released earlier this year by the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.

House members studied the internal documents from the following baby food giants:

  • Beech-Nut
  • Gerber
  • Sprout
  • Walmart which makes Parents Choice
  • Nurture, which makes Happy Family Organics
  • Campbell Soup which makes Plum Organics
  • A Hain which makes Earth’s Best Baby Food

After studying the documents, the chairman of the bi-partisan subcommittee, Raja Krishnamoorthi, released this statement which reads in part, "The subcommittee’s staff report found that these manufacturers knowingly sell baby food containing high levels of toxic heavy metals."

The EPA sets limits on the amount of lead and arsenic in our drinking water. But no government agency regulates the heavy metals in baby food. No one. Consumer Reports did independent testing three years ago and had similar findings, two-thirds of baby foods tested had troubling levels of heavy metals.

And as a Mom, I’m saying, “Wait a minute! Is baby food out of the question?”

Consumer Reports says no, not completely.

Here are their recommendations:

  • Limit high risk foods. Those include rice, sweet potatoes, apple juice and grape juice.
  • Minimize baby food snacks. Some of those include puffs, teething biscuits and crackers
  • Make your own baby food. Then you can avoid additives in baby food which are believed to increase the levels of heavy metals.
  • Vary your child’s diet. A variety of foods is good for us and good for baby. It also helps avoid the baby getting too much of a food that may contain heavy metals.

The last piece of advice from Consumer Reports is don’t panic. Not every child exposed to heavy metals has cognitive damage. But we, as parents and grandparents, are now armed with information to limit our little one’s exposure.

And that’s your consumer alert.