Gerber, Beech-Nut, and Plum Baby Food Facing Lawsuit Over Heavy Metals in Products
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Beech-Nut Nutrition, Gerber Products, and Plum Organics are facing individual class action lawsuits over allegations that their baby food products contain toxic levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury while marketing the products as safe for infant and child consumption. These lawsuits allege that if the baby food manufacturers were aware of the presence of dangerous levels of heavy metals in their products, they should have informed consumers; and that if they were not aware, they should have been.
Heavy metals have proven neurotoxic effects, especially on children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are just two of the official organizations to have studied and declared these four particular metals as dangerous to human health, particularly children. While some arsenic is naturally occurring in certain food products and small amounts of the other heavy metals are not considered extremely dangerous, each metal is considered a toxic contaminant when it passes a certain level. Exposure to dangerous levels of heavy metals particularly in children has resulted in damage to the brain and nervous system, developmental delays, behavioral problems, and more.
Food manufacturers are required to adhere to strict standards regarding the presence of heavy metals in their products, particularly in baby food.
While it may come as a shock to some, low levels of heavy metals are permitted in baby food, as the FDA has reportedly not set thresholds for any heavy metal in baby foods besides arsenic. However, baby food manufacturers are required to disclose the presence of any unsafe levels of these substances to consumers, which each of these lawsuits allege never happened. The report which sparked this slew of class actions points to a lack of post-production product testing and lack of regulatory oversight as potential contributors to the problem.
These class actions revolve around allegations of consumer protection violations.
Consumer protection laws exist to protect consumers from unethical conduct on the part of businesses and organizations. A good portion of consumer protection laws rely on the idea that company’s should be transparent with their customers regarding what is or is not in their product. Understandably, the parents filing these lawsuits have claimed that they would never have purchased the baby food in question had they been aware of the dangerous amounts of heavy metal in the products. This opens up questions of the baby food manufacturers’ liability for allowing dangerous substances into the baby food in the first place, and then failing to disclose the possibility of unsafe levels of those substances to purchasing consumers.
These lawsuits are seeking relief via jury in the form of actual damages to be paid out to the plaintiffs and all those similarly situated, as well as restitution and punitive damages to deter the companies from engaging in similar conduct in the future.