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These Baby Foods Should Be Pulled From Grocery Shelves Immediately, Lawsuit Claims

The items are sold at two popular grocery stores.
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese
Baby food jars.jpg

Dangerous levels of lead were allegedly detected in two Happy Tot baby food products manufactured by Family Organics Happy, a new lawsuit claims. The items are sold at the popular grocery stores Target and Whole Foods, both of which are named in the complaint filed by the Ecological Alliance in Los Angeles.

The products called out in court documents are the Apples and Spinach Soft-Baked Oat Bars and Cheese & Spinach Ravioli with Marinara Sauce. One serving of the bars contains more than a day's worth of the maximum acceptable amount of lead for children, and one serving of the pasta contains 12 times the maximum amount, according to the complaint.

Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now

Lead exposure can cause health problems like brain damage and kidney damage, and they can stunt growth and development in children, according to the Mayo Clinic. Food can be contaminated during both the production and processing processes, it adds:

"For example, vegetables may be grown in soil that contains lead, or exposed to exhaust from fuel that contains lead. Lead can leak into canned foods from tins manufactured with lead solder."

The lawsuit was filed against Nurture Inc., the parent company of Happy Family Organics. It also names Target and Whole Foods because they are the largest sellers of the two Happy Tot items.

"Whole Foods wouldn't sell an apple grown with pesticides, yet they keep selling baby food containing appalling amounts of lead to unsuspecting parents," Vineet Dubey, a Los Angeles attorney, said in a statement.

Lead in baby food
Courtesy of Ecological Alliance LLC

Happy Family Organics claims on its website that its products are "safe for babies and toddlers to enjoy." Per the company:

We only sell products that have been rigorously tested and we do not have products in-market with contaminant ranges outside of the limits set by the FDA. We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of implementing strict quality standards in providing nutritious offerings for families. The safety, health and wellness of our little ones is, and has always been, an intrinsic part of our DNA.

But there is no federal standard for lead in baby food, the lawsuit against the company points out. The Washington Post reported in April that "there is a growing consensus among health experts that lead levels in baby foods should not exceed 1 ppb." At the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a multi-year plan to reduce exposure to toxic elements in foods commonly eaten by children, which includes monitoring manufacturer compliance.

Another baby food product was recently pulled from store shelves because of high arsenic levels. The Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal tested above the level for naturally occurring arsenic set by the FDA in August 2020.

"Nurture, Inc. stands by the quality and safety of all of its products," a spokesperson for the company told Eat This, Not That!. "While we do not comment on pending litigation, we intend to vigorously defend this case."

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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