Baby Food and Heavy Metals: Which Baby Foods Contain Heavy Metals?

Harvey Kirk

By Harvey Kirk
Posted January 25, 2023


The product liability lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent families throughout the U.S. who are pursuing a lawsuit over severe ADHD or autism caused by heavy metals in baby food.  While information about the link between baby foods and heavy metals first emerged nearly two years ago, a number of popular brands continue to sell baby food with heavy metal contamination that poses a serious risk of neurologic and cognitive disorders for children.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new draft guidance that outlines the levels of lead in baby food that will be considered actionable, as part of a continuing effort to address four toxic heavy metals found in baby food products. However, many parents are questioning how the problems with baby food have been allowed to continue for so long and why manufacturers have not independently taken steps to make sure their baby food is heavy metals free.

In this post we will discuss the on-going efforts by federal regulators to remove toxic heavy metals from baby food, and a recent report that suggests most manufacturers continue to do nothing on their own to stop selling contaminated baby food products that may be poisoning children.

Heavy Metals Baby Food Lawsuit Background

The widespread problems with toxic heavy metals in baby food were first disclosed in February 2021, when a Congressional report found that baby food sold by Gerber, Beech-Nut Nutrition, Plum, Walmart and other well-known companies contain dangerously high levels of:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury

The report revealed many baby food products contained levels of lead that were 177 times higher than what is allowed in bottled water, 69 times the limits on cadmium, 91 times the maximum level of arsenic, and five times the levels of allowable mercury.

It is well established that consistent exposure to high levels of heavy metals identified in baby foods can cause serious neurological disorders for developing children, including life-long disabilities like autism and severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In light of these findings, product liability lawyers have been pursuing heavy metals baby food lawsuits for families of children currently under the age of 15 who were diagnosed with

    • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between the ages of 2 and 14)
    • Severe ADHD between the ages of 8 and 14

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2023 Report Finding Heavy Metals In Baby Food

Despite widespread calls for manufacturers to remove toxic metals from baby food, a new report released earlier this month makes it clear that baby food contaminated with lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury are still found on store shelves nearly two years after the Congressional report was released in 2021.

An investigative report was released by Bloomberg Law (subscription required) on January 5, 2023, which highlights the continuing problems with baby foods contaminated with toxic metals.

Researchers from Bloomberg bought 33 baby food products sold through Amazon, online retailers and local grocery stores in Washington D.C during the month of July 2022. The team then sent the products to an accredited third-party laboratory to be tested for levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead.

The levels of metal found in baby food products were then compared to the proposed regulatory limits on the presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury outlined in The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021. Although the Act died in Congress, it would have set the following limits on baby food and cereal.

Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 Proposed Heavy Metal Limits

Proposed Arsenic Limits

  • 10 parts per billion (ppb) of inorganic arsenic in baby food
  • 15 ppb for cereal

Proposed Lead Limits

  • 5 ppb in baby food
  • 10 ppb for cereal;

Proposed Cadmium Limits

  • 5 ppb for baby food
  • 10 ppb for cereal

Proposed Mercury Limits

  • 2 ppb for all baby food and cereal

Bloomberg’s report confirmed that all 33 baby foods tested contained heavy metals, with 32 of 33 baby food contaminated with at least two heavy metals. The report further identified 10 products that contained arsenic levels exceeding proposed limits, 17 that contained exceeding cadmium levels and 18 had elevated levels of lead.

Baby food that tested positive for heavy metals in Bloomberg Law's report

Which Baby Foods Contain Heavy Metals?

Toxic heavy metal was found in all baby foods tested by Bloomberg. However, the report warned about dangerously high levels of heavy metals in baby food sold by certain companies.

Below we have outlined the brands and specific products listed in the Bloomberg report that contained levels of heavy metal exceeding the limits that were proposed in The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021.

Baby food products found to contain heavy metals that are linked to autism risks

Why Are Heavy Metals Allowed In Baby Food?

The unfortunate answer is that baby food manufacturers are not required to put their products through rigorous testing to eliminate heavy metals. Currently, there are no mandatory regulations set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit heavy metals from baby food.

This is especially concerning considering there are a vast amount of medical studies currently published in peer reviewed journals linking exposure to toxins such as lead, arsenic cadmium and mercury to cognitive and behavioral impairments, including a risk of severe ADHD and autism from baby food with heavy metals.

FDA’s “Closer To Zero” Plan to Remove Heavy Metals from Baby Food?

After the first concerns were raised about heavy metal in baby foods in February 2021, the FDA announced its Closer to Zero initiative in April 2021, which set out on a goal to reduce the presence of toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury in baby food products.

The FDA stated the Closer to Zero plan will take place in several steps to ensure public safety, as well as prevent a shortage of baby food. First on the agency’s agenda is to gather and evaluate scientific data to determine appropriate action levels for lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, based on maximum safely achievable limits.

After proposed values are established, the agency will consult with stakeholders, including the manufacturers and consumer protection groups, before finalizing proposed action levels.

Given the serious health risks from certain heavy metals in baby food, the FDA stated last year that it would prioritize setting actionable levels on arsenic and lead in baby food first, one of those two toxic metals was addressed this week.

2023 FDA Actionable Levels of Lead In Baby Food

On January 24, 2023, the FDA issued two draft guidelines for actionable levels of lead in baby food products and juice. While the proposed action levels are not binding, if approved and finalized, the FDA would be allowed to bring enforcement action against manufacturers selling juice or baby food with lead levels exceeding the following limits;

Proposed Lead Limits for Baby Food

  • 10 parts per billion (ppb) for fruits, vegetables, mixtures, yogurts, custards, puddings and single-ingredient meats
  • 20 ppb for root vegetables
  • 20 ppb for dry cereals

Proposed Lead Limits for Juice

  • 10 ppb of lead for apple juice on a single-strength (ready-to-drink) basis
  • 20 ppb of lead for other single-strength juice types, including juice blends that contain apple juice

To date, the agency has yet to provide an updated guidance on juice or baby food products for arsenic, mercury or cadmium.

Baby Food Heavy Metals Causing Autism and ADHD

While the FDA and legislators work to develop standards for levels of all metals in baby food, many families are filing toxic baby food lawsuits against the manufacturers alleging that their children developed neurologic and cognitive disorders from eating baby food with heavy metal contamination. Including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD)

Although there have been no prior limits on heavy metals in baby food set by regulators, manufacturers knew or should have known about the risk of ADHD and autism from arsenic, lead, cadmium or mercury in their baby foods.

Baby food autism and ADHD lawsuits allege that rather than properly vetting ingredients and testing the finished products thoroughly to ensure safety, manufacturers concealed the risks about heavy metals in baby food. Information about the presence of heavy metals was omitted from the baby food labeling, while manufacturers falsely advertised that the products were safe for infants and children.

How Do I File A Baby Food Metal Contamination Lawsuit?

To file a baby food heavy metal poisoning lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our personal injury lawyers actively investigating baby food autism lawsuits and baby food ADHD lawsuits for children who consumed any of the following products for a combined period of at least one year;

  • Nurture (HappyBABY brands)
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company
  • Gerber
  • Hain (Earth’s Best Organic Brand)
  • Campbell (Plum Organics Brand)
  • Sprout Foods and Sprout Organic Food
  • Other baby food manufacturer(s)

And were diagnosed with;

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between ages of 2 and 14 (or)
  • Severe ADHD between the ages of 8 and 14


5 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Joyce says:

    Child diagnosed with Autism diffcult to speak, special needs, etc.

    Posted on January 27, 2023 at 11:42 pm

  • Sarah says:

    I am terrified as my baby has just started using beachnut. I figured it was safe because it was organic

    Posted on July 14, 2023 at 10:06 am

  • Jen says:

    My question is why is it 15yrs.or prior? All my Children were feed these baby food and my Adult daughter now was be ADHD in 1995 which I’m sure these metals have always been there since day 1 this didn’t just happened this I believe was caused by design!

    Posted on December 5, 2023 at 10:10 am

  • Stephanie says:

    I’m 36 years old and I was diagnosed with a severe ADHD I’ve been taking ADHD meds since I was years old but I know for a fact that my mom fed me and my sister’s baby foods listed because she thought she could trust it we all do as parents.i had no idea that any of it contained heavy metals that’s really sad and pathetic calling a company a baby food company and then possibly giving a child ashd or autism maybe they are.workkmg.with big pharma maybe it’s a money scheme put heavy metals in the food and then pill companies can benefit because they would have kids that need medicine for ADHD or autism…what a good food for thought? I had no idea that’s sick

    Posted on December 12, 2023 at 7:31 pm

  • Desiree says:

    My daughter recently started with beech-nut pouches. I did not know they were on the list of contains heavy metals otherwise I wouldn’t have given her any. Well she’s 1 and they do lead testing around that age ,and her lead test was high. Shame on you for not being more careful with making sure your baby food is safe.

    Posted on March 14, 2024 at 9:47 pm

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