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Toxic Baby Food Lawsuit

Government and private testing reveal dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals in baby food manufactured by several popular brands such as Gerber, Beech-Nut, Happy Baby, and Plum Organics.

happy baby eating food on kitchen

Whether you’re a parent or a concerned citizen, hearing the news of any toxic baby food lawsuit can be highly disconcerting. One example was in 2018, where Consumer Reports tested 50 baby foods and found that 33 of them contained elevated heavy metal levels. It was a shocking discovery that had caregivers considering their legal options and attorney generals from 23 states petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2021 to set limits on heavy metals in baby foods.

The FDA introduced plans to help lower the heavy metals in baby foods by 2023. Several months later, Consumer Reports’ follow-up tests on 14 baby food products found many still contained “worrisome levels” of lead, arsenic, and cadmium. At that point, many politicians urged the FDA to take further action.

Sadaka Law of New Jersey continues to follow the progress of these matters, including the updates below.

Toxic Baby Food Lawsuit Updates

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone helped to introduce the Improving Newborns’ Food and Nutrition Testing Safety Act, also known as INFANTS. It would require the FDA to play a bigger part in inspecting baby foods and take Consumer Reports’ study results more seriously.

Here are updates from more recent toxic baby food lawsuits to note:

  • April 2024: The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidates more than 20 lawsuits against Gerber, Beech-Nut, and other baby food manufacturers in California and assigns them to a San Francisco federal court.
  • April 2024: A Nevada mother files a lawsuit against Gerber and Beech-Nut, claiming heavy metals in baby foods caused her child to suffer developmental problems.
  • September 2023: An Ohio judge dismisses a class-action lawsuit against Kroger, claiming the company sold baby food products contaminated with heavy metals.
  • August 2023: A California judge dismisses a lawsuit against Gerber, Hain Celestial, and other baby food companies, alleging a link between heavy metals in baby food and autism.
  • April 2022: A New Jersey judge dismisses a lawsuit against Sprout, alleging a connection between heavy metals in baby food and health issues.

Contamination in Baby Foods

Unfortunately, the 2018 report from Consumer Reports on contamination in baby foods isn’t the only one. About a year afterward, Healthy Babies Bright Futures released a similar report, but with even more disturbing details—out of 168 baby food products tested from 61 brands, about 95% of them contained heavy metals. Understandably, these findings caused huge concerns for parents and caregivers nationwide.

Other studies done on the heavy metals found in baby food suggest that exposure may lead to neurological development problems, behavioral issues, and other health risks. Some parents have responded by threatening to take legal action against toxic baby food manufacturers, with quite a few following through and filing a baby food contamination lawsuit.

Common Contaminants in Baby Food

food safety inspector measuring concentrations of lead mercury and cadmium

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a set of guidelines to help parents provide babies with the right nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, and zinc to fuel development. Many baby food manufacturers used these guidelines to create baby food products. However, the fact that these baby foods have included contaminants that aren’t good for babies, legal claims for contaminated infant food have become more commonplace.

What are the common contaminants found in baby foods?

Heavy Metals Contamination

Baby food has been around for about a century, but nobody regulated the industry much. Today, that means that some baby foods contain high levels of heavy metals, such as:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury


Lead exposure can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, and brain damage. There is no “safe” level of lead.


Exposure to arsenic may lead to IQ loss and skin, bladder, and lung cancer.


Cadmium can damage everything, from a baby’s kidneys and lungs to their reproductive system and immune system.


Mercury exposure can result in visual impairment, heart trouble, and even fatalities.

Other Toxic Substances

Almost every toxic baby food lawsuit filed has focused on the heavy metals found in baby foods. Still, heavy metals aren’t the only thing parents have to worry about when making nutrition and purchasing decisions. Here are other toxic substances potentially found in baby foods.


The Environmental Working Group tested 73 baby food products from companies like Beech-Nut, Gerber, and Parent’s Choice in 2023. About 40% of conventional baby foods contained at least one pesticide.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

A 2023 study by researchers at the University of Crete in Greece discovered some baby foods contain persistent organic pollutants (associated with childhood obesity).

Health Risks Associated with Toxic Baby Food

doctor examining baby with stethoscope at home

The reason for all the litigation over toxic baby food in recent years is the anger that parents feel when baby food manufacturers put a child’s health at risk. Some of the health risks of toxic baby food include the following:

Neurological Development Effects

Many studies, such as this one from 2022 by Yi Yan Heg et al., suggest that heavy metals found in baby foods can cause neurological issues with:

  • Memory
  • Learning skills
  • Language
  • Attention

Behavioral and Cognitive Impairments

This 2019 Osman, Yang, and Massey study from 2019 reported exposure to the heavy metals in baby foods to cause behavioral disorders. Examples include ADHD and autism, as well as some cognitive development problems.

Potential Long-Term Health Implications

The same 2019 study above reports that eating baby foods containing heavy metals could result in:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer

Regulatory Oversight and Industry Standards

The solution to the baby food industry’s biggest problem seems simple: more regulations. Still, the FDA has been slow to act.

FDA Regulations on Baby Food Safety

Congress released a report regarding the toxic heavy metals in baby foods in 2021, and it caught many parents by surprise. The main outrage came about after the FDA confirmed it had no real regulations surrounding the baby food industry.

In this case, the FDA responded by playing a more active part in advising parents on the importance of baby food safety. The federal agency still doesn’t approve baby foods before they hit the market, however.

Compliance with Industry Standards and Guidelines

Since the public demanded some further response, the FDA has created standards and guidelines for companies that specialize in manufacturing baby formula. No such standards and guidelines exist for baby food products yet.

The lack of regulation is why New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone and others pushed hard for the Improving Newborns’ Food and Nutrition Testing Safety Act to pass.

Baby Food Recalls

One positive thing to come out of all the media attention surrounding the heavy metals found in baby food is that some manufacturers pulled relevant products from the shelves.

For example, in 2023, WanaBana, Shnucks, and Weis recalled baby food pouches following lead contamination concerns.

Recent Developments in Toxic Baby Food Lawsuits

books gavel scale and clock on wooden table

Search for “toxic baby food lawsuit,” and you’ll find hundreds against baby food manufacturers. You’ll also find that almost every baby food safety lawsuit has been filed by an angry parent who was upset over the heavy metals in baby foods. Many legal cases are still pending, but the overwhelming number of them is evidence that awareness is growing.

Notable Cases and Settlements

Many of the biggest brands in the baby food industry are facing lawsuits right now, including:

  • Gerber
  • Beech-Nut
  • Happy Family Organics
  • Healthy Times Organic
  • Plum Organics

Typically, these lawsuits (many in the early stages) claim a connection exists between the contaminants in baby foods and health issues.

Legal Actions Taken Against Baby Food Manufacturers

With so many lawsuits against baby food manufacturers pending, there is still speculation. How will the courts across the country handle them?

There have been discussions about consolidating the lawsuits and creating a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), which happened in California recently.

Impact on Baby Food Industry

With every lawsuit for harmful baby food filed, the baby food industry takes a hit on their bottom line, as well as the following:

Market Repercussions

The U.S. baby food industry in 2024 was estimated at a whopping $84 billion, but baby food sales have slowed with all the negative news.

Changes in Manufacturing Practices and Ingredient Sourcing

As of May 2024, the FDA has still not forced baby food manufacturers to change their manufacturing practices or the sources they utilize for ingredients. The hope is that the federal agency will be able to do this if and when the INFANTS Act passes. Then, parents can more easily take legal action against toxic baby food finds.

What Should Parents Do If They Suspect Their Baby Has Consumed Contaminated Food?

Do you believe your child may have eaten contaminated baby food? Here’s what to do next.

Contact a Healthcare Professional

Call your baby’s doctor to talk about your concerns.

Monitor Symptoms

Check your baby for signs of neurological, behavioral, and cognitive issues.

Stay Hydrated

Ensure your baby remains hydrated to keep them in good health.

Report the Incident

Get in touch with a Consumer Complaint Coordinator from the FDA to lodge a formal complaint.

Would you like to speak with a lawyer about filing a toxic baby food lawsuit? Call Sadaka Law at 800-810-3457 to discuss your case with a qualified lawyer.

Good Metals vs. Bad Metals

First, the good metals. You need a certain amount of metal in your diet. Metals such as calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, sodium, and zinc all have daily intake requirements.

There are metals that are known to be harmful to people and exposure to them should be limited or avoided. Those metals include aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury, silver, strontium, nickel, thallium, uranium, and vanadium.

Who monitors metals in our food supply?

The FDA monitors, tests, and sets standards for metals in foods and animal feed. The FDA also monitors cosmetics as it is another potential source of exposure to harmful metals.

What is the problem with metals in baby food?

Toxic metals in baby food can cause damage to the developing brain. Recent testing by government regulators and private individuals reveals shockingly high levels of cadmium, lead, and arsenic in baby foods manufactured by several popular brands: Gerber, Beech-Nut Naturals, and Earth’s Best Organic.

Exposing an infant’s developing brain to toxic baby food can lead to serious and irreversible damage.

Heavy Metal Can Damage a Developing Brain

Exposure to toxic levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury levels:

  • damage children’s brain
  • damage children’s ability to think
  • permanently decrease IQ
  • cause behavioral problems
  • cause Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • cause autism spectrum disorder (autism)

Health Babies Bright Futures Study

In a study conducted by the non-profit group Healthy Babies Bright Futures, 94% of the 168 baby foods tested contained lead; 75% contained cadmium; 73% contained arsenic; 32% contained mercury. You can read the study here.

What are the dangers of Arsenic?

Arsenic is a toxic metal that can be found in many different foods and water because it was used as a pesticide and in animal feed. Arsenic has been linked to causing bladder, lung, and skin cancers as well as permanent IQ loss and dementia.

What are the dangers of Cadmium?

Cadmium is a naturally occurring metal that can also be introduced through industrial activities. It is often used to produce batteries and pigments, and, as a result, it may also contaminate food items. Cadmium exposure can cause damage to the kidneys, reproductive system, lungs, bones, immune system, and cancer.

What are the dangers of Lead?

Lead is a toxic metal that was once used in industrial activities including in paint, gasoline, and pesticides. It can cause serious health problems. Exposure to lead can affect the entire body, and infants are especially vulnerable because their bodies are still developing. Babies who ingest large amounts of lead may experience developmental delays and learning disabilities, as well as kidney and brain damage.

What are the dangers of Mercury?

Mercury is a dangerous metal that is released from coal-fired power plants and mining operations. Mercury can cause symptoms such as memory loss, impaired vision, heart problems, and even death.

Baby Foods That Contained Toxic Metals

According to the Healthy Baby Bright Futures study, the following brands were found to contain toxic chemicals:

  • Beech-Nut
  • BioKinetics
  • Earth’s Best
  • Enfamil
  • Gerber
  • Happy Baby
  • Healthy Times
  • NuturMe
  • Parent’s Choice (Walmart)
  • Similac

The companies state that their foods are safe, however.

U.S. House Committee Investigation into Toxic Metals in Baby Food

On Feb. 4, 2021, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a report on four major baby food manufacturers’ testing policies, test results, and the companies’ responses to the results.

Four companies submitted information to the congressional committee for analysis: Nurture, Inc. (HappyBABY), Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic), and Gerber. The companies’ testers found high levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in foods made by all four respondents. Testers also detected mercury in Nurture, Inc.’s HappyBABY products. (Nurture, Inc. was the only company to test for mercury.)

The committee found that companies routinely tested their own products, but they did not follow FDA guidelines to also test foods from other manufacturers.

The committee also called into question the accuracy of company-testing results. Companies relied on pre-approved test labs and made limited use of independent labs, which may have led to inaccurate results.

In response, all four major companies issued statements promoting the safety of their products, promising increased transparency in testing protocols, and vowing to work with the FDA to improve overall standards for food safety.

Baby Food & Baby Food Ingredients Tested

  • puffs
  • rice cakes
  • cereals
  • teethers
  • yogis
  • jarred foods
  • formulas
  • flours
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • spices
  • extracts
  • vitamin pre-mixes
  • vitamin mixes
  • powders
  • purees
  • oats
  • seeds
  • pastes
  • juice concentrates

Toxic Metals Baby Food Lawyers

Both government and private testing have detected dangerous levels of toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in nearly all baby foods. If your child was exposed to elevated quantities of toxic heavy metals (namely, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and
mercury) from consuming defendants’ baby food products and, as a result, suffered a brain injury that manifested in diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) we can help. 

Contact us today and tell us your story.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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