February 16, 2021 – Beech-Nut Faces Another Lawsuit
Another lawsuit was filed against Beech-Nut Nutrition Company over its apparent failure to disclose the presence of toxic heavy metals in its baby food products while representing that the items were safe and healthy.
“Based on Defendant’s decision to advertise, label, and market its Tainted Baby Foods as healthy, nutritious, and safe for consumption, it had a duty to ensure that these statements were true and not misleading, which it failed to do,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone who purchased Beech-Nut’s baby food products in the U.S. for personal/household use during the applicable statute of limitations period, with two state-specific subclasses for those who did so in New York and Pennsylvania.
February 13, 2021 – Two More Lawsuits Filed
Gerber Products Company and the Hain Celestial Group have been hit with two more lawsuits filed on February 12 and 13, respectively.
The lawsuit against Gerber looks to represent anyone in the U.S., and a subclass of Texas residents, who purchased or consumed the following products for household or business use within the applicable statute of limitations period: Gerber Rice Single Grain Cereal, Gerber Oatmeal Single Grain Cereal, Gerber Natural Carrot, Gerber Natural Apple Strawberry Banana with Vitamin C, and Gerber Natural Banana Blueberry with Vitamin C.
The lawsuit against Hain looks to represent Illinois and Idaho residents who, within the applicable statute of limitations period, purchased any baby food products under Hain’s Earth’s Best Organic brand, including pouches, purees and snacks that consist mostly of rice and other ingredients.
February 11, 2021 – Nurture, Campbell, Beech-Nut Hit with More Lawsuits
Three more lawsuits were filed on February 11 against Nurture, Inc., Campbell Soup Company, and Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, respectively, over their apparent failure to disclose the presence of toxic heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury, in their baby food products.
The lawsuit against Nurture, which sells baby food under its Happy Baby Organics brand, concerns flavored rice puffs that the case says the company deceptively represented as safe and healthy for young children despite the fact that the foods contain heavy metals. The suit looks to cover New York and Wyoming residents who purchased the defendant’s flavored rice puffs within the applicable statute of limitations.
The lawsuit against Campbell, which also names its subsidiary Plum, PBC as a defendant, looks to represent anyone in the U.S. who purchased the following products within the applicable statute of limitations period and until the date of class certification:
Plum Organics Mighty Protein & Fiber Pear White Bean Blueberry Date & Chia
Plum Organics Mighty Protein & Fiber Mango Banana White Bean Sunflower Seed Butter & Chia
Plum Organics Mighty Protein & Fiber Banana White Beat Strawberry Chia
The lawsuit against Beech-Nut looks to represent anyone who purchased baby food products sold under the “Beech-Nut Naturals,” “Beech-Nut Organics” and “Beech-Nut” brands for household or business use anytime since February 10, 2015, with a proposed subclass covering Wisconsin residents who meet the same description. The products include purees of fruit, vegetables, meat broths and grains sold in jars or pouches; cereals; bars; crisps; and dissolving “melties” snacks. More products may be added as the lawsuit progresses.
February 10, 2021 – More Lawsuits Filed, NY AG Calls for FDA Action
Proposed class action lawsuits continue to roll in following last Thursday’s congressional report revealing high levels of toxic heavy metals in popular baby foods.
Gerber and Hain, which makes Earth’s Best Organic baby food, were hit with a proposed class action on February 8, while Hain was named in another proposed class action filed the next day. The cases allege consumers were misled by the companies’ representations and “reasonably believed” that the products were safe and healthy for babies. Meanwhile, Gerber and Hain failed to disclose that their popular baby food products contained levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury considered to be unsafe for consumption, the suits claim.
The New York Attorney General on February 9 called on the FDA to take action in response to the congressional report described on this page. In a letter addressed to acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, New York Attorney General Letitia James urged the agency to implement the suggestions set forth in the report, which included setting standards for heavy metal levels across all baby foods and requiring manufacturers to test their finished products, not just ingredients, for toxic heavy metals. The letter further stated that consumers should be able to “clearly see” on baby food labels the reported levels of heavy metals so they can be fully informed of what they’re feeding their children.
According to the letter, the FDA sets limits on toxic metals in other consumer products, such as bottled water, juice and candy, but has failed to do so when it comes to baby food. Only after “years of effort” has the FDA recently introduced regulations for inorganic arsenic levels in rice cereal for infants, and the allowable level is “notably” 10 times more than the amounts permitted in bottled water, the letter stated. Citing the congressional report, the letter noted that in the absence of regulation, baby food manufacturers have set their own standards for heavy metal levels and at times have even sold food that failed to meet their internal requirements. The effects of these practices pose “serious risks” for the health of our nation’s infants and young children, the letter stated.
“It is critical that our government take immediate action to protect our children from these negative health consequences,” the New York Attorney General wrote, stating she was “deeply concerned” by the report and the government’s “dangerous” lack of regulation in the baby food industry.
At least three proposed class actions have been filed against the makers of popular baby food products after a congressional report released Thursday found high levels of heavy metals in products made by seven of the country’s largest baby food manufacturers.
According to the lawsuits, defendants Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, Gerber Products Company, and Plum, PBC have deceived parents and caregivers by marketing their products as safe and healthy for infants and young children while failing to disclose that the foods contain “significant levels of toxic heavy metals,” including arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have declared the four heavy metals to be “dangerous to human health,” particularly to babies and children, “who are most vulnerable to their neurotoxic effects,” the lawsuit against Beech-Nut states. As explained in the case against Gerber, exposure to heavy metals can have debilitating effects on a child’s brain development and long-term function.
The lawsuits allege the defendants knew or should have known that the levels of heavy metals in their baby foods were “multiples higher” than the amounts allowed under existing regulations for other products yet failed to warn consumers who, relying on the companies’ reputations and representations, assumed the products were safe for their babies. The cases claim that as consumers reasonably relied on the defendants’ “misleading, deceptive, unfair, and false” marketing, the companies were allowed to “reap enormous profits” from selling what one lawsuit describes as “contaminated baby food.”
According to the suits, consumers would not have purchased the defendants’ products had they been aware of the presence of heavy metals in the food.
Which Baby Food Products Are Included in the Lawsuits?
The lawsuit against Beech-Nut includes the following products:
Gerber Toddler Spiral Pasta in Turkey Meat Sauce Meal
Gerber Sitter 2nd Foods Turkey Rice Dinner Plastic Tub
The lawsuit against Plum includes the following products, though the plaintiff reserves the right to add additional items if it’s discovered that they contain heavy metals:
Just Sweet Potato Organic Baby Food
Just Peaches Organic Baby Food
Just Prunes Organic Baby Food
Apple & Carrot Organic Baby Food
Pumpkin, Banana, Papaya, and Cardamom Organic Baby Food
Apple, Raisin, & Quinoa Organic Baby Food
Little Teethers Organic Multigrain Teething Wafers- Banana with Pumpkin
Mighty Morning Bar- Blueberry Lemon
The Report that Led to the Lawsuits
All three proposed class actions were filed the day after the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a report detailing the results of an investigation into heavy metal levels in some of the most popular baby food products.
The investigation was spurred by the release of an October 2019 report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures titled “What’s in my baby’s food?” in which the non-profit claimed that 95 percent of 168 tested baby foods contained “toxic chemicals,” including arsenic and lead.
Following the report’s release, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy in November 2019 requested internal documents and test results from seven of the largest baby food manufacturers. Per the congressional report, arsenic, lead and cadmium were present in baby foods made by all four of the companies who responded to the committee’s request, including Nurture, Inc., which sells Happy Family Organics; Hain Celestial Group, which sells baby food products under the brand name Earth’s Best Organic; Beech-Nut; and Gerber. Mercury was present in baby food made by Nurture, which was the only one of the four responding companies who regularly tests for the metal, the subcommittee added.
According to the report, not only do the companies’ internal standards permit “dangerously high levels” of toxic heavy metals, but documents revealed that baby food products were still sold even when they exceeded those levels. Moreover, it was discovered that all the responding companies except Nurture only test heavy metal levels in the baby foods’ ingredients, not in the final products sold to consumers, the report stated.
The subcommittee further noted that Campbell Soup Company, which sells baby food under the brand name Plum Organics); Walmart, Inc., which sells baby food through its private label Parent’s Choice; and Sprout Foods, Inc. “refused to cooperate” with the investigation. According to the case against Plum, the company only provided a spreadsheet in which it “self-declared” that each of its products “Meets Criteria” for the heavy metals, though it failed to specify what the criteria were.
The subcommittee stated it was “greatly concerned” that these three companies’ apparent failure to cooperate indicates that there might be “even higher levels of toxic heavy metals” in their baby food than in their competitors’ products.
The Defendants’ Allegedly Deceptive Representations
According to the lawsuits, Beech-Nut, Gerber and Plum won consumers’ trust through false representations while failing to disclose that their products contained potentially harmful levels of toxic chemicals.
Beech-Nut, one suit says, represents that its products are “natural” and appropriate for specific age groups within the listed “Stage.” Moreover, the case claims, Beech-Nut labels state the products are “Real Food for Babies” while “misleadingly omitt[ing]” the presence of heavy metals and perchlorate, “a potentially dangerous contaminant that poses health risks to babies and children.”
The lawsuit against Gerber alleges that the company claims to be “the world’s most trusted name in baby food” while showing “reckless indifference” to consumers’ right to know about the potential presence of harmful heavy metals in the manufacturer’s baby food.
According to the case against Plum, the company’s advertised mission is to “nourish little ones with the very best food from the very first bite.” Plum allegedly claims to use “the best ingredients” and include “only” the healthy fruits, vegetables and grains pictured on the foods’ front labels. Despite these representations, Plum “knew or should have known” that its baby foods contained undisclosed levels of heavy metals, the lawsuit charges, and has “intentionally omitted” the presence of these toxins in order to mislead consumers into purchasing its products.
Who Do the Lawsuits Look to Cover?
The case against Beech-Nut looks to cover anyone in the U.S. who purchased the Beech-Nut products mentioned above for household or business use (and not for resale) anytime since October 1, 2015. The case also proposes subclasses of Illinois, Iowa, California, New Jersey, Minnesota, Florida and New York residents who purchased the products within the same time frame.
The case against Gerber looks to represent anyone in the U.S. who purchased and consumed the Gerber products named above within the applicable statute of limitations period, with proposed subclasses of Connecticut, Arizona, Colorado and Texas residents.
The lawsuit against Plum looks to cover anyone who purchased the Plum products named above for household or business use (and not for resale) anytime since February 5, 2015.
Will More Lawsuits Be Filed?
Though we can’t say for sure, it’s possible that more lawsuits will be filed against the companies who were the subject of the congressional subcommittee’s report.
If you’re interested in taking legal action, you may want to consider reaching out to an attorney in your area for a free initial consultation. An attorney should be able to help explain your legal rights and options, including whether filing another class action is possible.
How Do I Join the Existing Lawsuits?
As with most class actions, there’s nothing you need to do to join one or more of the lawsuits covered in this post. If the cases move forward and settle, that’s when “class members,” i.e., the people who fall into the categories mentioned above, would be notified of the settlement and given a chance to claim whatever compensation the court deems appropriate.
Check out our Learn page to find out more about the process, including how class members are notified.
While it often takes months or years for cases to reach resolution, you can check this page to keep up with the lawsuits’ progress, or sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter to have class action news and updates sent straight to your inbox.