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These two Gerber foods could cause lifelong damage to developing babies, lawsuit says

Gerber’s refusal to warn parents ... (and) continuing to sell baby food they know contains lead until a lawsuit forces them to remove the products from the market defies comprehension.”
— Vineet Dubey, consumer attorney
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA, September 28, 2021 / -- Parents who feed their infants two popular baby foods through Gerber’s monthly subscription program could be exposing their child to dangerous levels of lead for as much as one-third of their baby’s life, during critical months of neurological development, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The suit alleges the renowned baby food maker refuses to comply with Proposition 65, a California consumer protection law requiring the reformulation of, or the addition of warning labels to, potentially toxic products. In particular, two Gerber Sitter 2nd Foods made for 6-to-8 month-olds— Gerber carrot, sweet potato and pea, and Gerber sweet potato, carrot, apple and cinnamon — tested well above California’s maximum allowable exposure limit for adults, says the complaint.

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause a range of life-long, debilitating health effects to which infants are particularly vulnerable. It robs children of their full potential, impairs cognition, stunts growth and often causes learning, hearing and behavioral problems.

Although lead consumption by infants is not safe at any level, the FDA has never set a federal standard for a maximum allowable amount.

“Gerber’s refusal to warn parents about the toxic levels isn’t just immoral, it violates the law,” said Vineet Dubey, the Los Angeles environmental attorney who filed the lawsuit. “Continuing to sell baby food they know contains lead until a lawsuit forces them to remove the products from the market defies comprehension. That’s why we are asking a court to prohibit further sale of these products until they are either reformulated to take the lead out or labelled in compliance with Prop. 65. Parents should be aware of what is being sold to them under the guise of safe, healthy baby food.”

One serving of Gerber carrot, sweet potato and pea baby food exposes a child to approximately 1.37 micrograms of lead, over 2 times greater than the 0.5 micrograms allowed per day for adults by Prop. 65. The lowest level of Gerber’s subscription program for this food sends a customer 16 4-ounce servings per month to feed to their baby. A parent who feeds their child all of that food within four weeks unknowingly doses their child with more lead than is allowed for an adult for an entire month. Feeding the baby the 16 servings in the 6th, 7th and 8th month would mean the child was exposed to dangerous lead levels for a third of its lifetime.

And one serving of Gerber sweet potato, apple, carrot and cinnamon baby food exposes a child to about 1.7 micrograms of lead, more than 3 times the daily limit for adult consumption per 4-ounce serving. The lowest level of Gerber’s subscription program for this food sends a customer 10 servings per month.

So while each serving contains more lead than the carrot, sweet potato and pea food, a subscriber feeds their child slightly less lead from this food per month because they receive fewer servings, but still 15-30% of their life would be exposed to lead poisoning using the subscription program.

A recent congressional report found Gerber and other leading baby food makers sold products they know to contain lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury at levels far higher than what most health experts consider allowable for infants. Fremont, Michigan-based Gerber Products Company, founded in 1927, is perhaps the most well-known maker of baby foods in the United States. It has been a subsidiary of Nestle S.A. since 2007.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of California-based Ecological Alliance LLC, which issued a statement urging Gerber to act in the public’s interest:

“Despite everything that is known about the dangers of lead in baby food, the problem is not going away. No baby food brand is as woven into the history of American families as Gerber. Gerber relies on that legacy of trust. They certainly have the resources to rigorously test their foods to ensure they are not dosing babies with heavy metals that can cause lifelong damage.”

The lawsuit was filed at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles; Ecological Alliance LLC v. Gerber Products Co., 21STCV35572 (L.A. Sup. Court, filed Sept. 28, 2021)

About Vineet Dubey: A co-founding partner of Los Angeles-based Custodio & Dubey LLP, has dedicated his law career to pursuing environmental litigation, primarily suing companies that are selling goods to the public containing toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.

Robert Frank
Newsroom Public Relations
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