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Class-action lawsuit filed over heavy metals in baby food after congressional report

Class-action lawsuit filed over heavy metals in baby food after congressional report
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A baby food company is facing a class-action lawsuit in New York after a congressional report uncovered internal documents from several companies revealing potentially dangerous levels of heavy metals in their products.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Co., which sells baby food products marketed as "organic" and "natural" and whose slogan is "real food for babies," is accused in the suit of "fail[ing] to warn consumers about the presence of heavy metals in its baby foods" including arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium.

The suit goes on to allege that Beech-Nut "misrepresented the true nature of the ingredients in its Baby Food when it failed to disclose the presence or risk of dangerous levels of heavy metals" in the ingredients.

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“These products are being marketed to young millennials with young children and I don’t think anyone would expect dangerous neurotoxins in baby food marketed for the first year of life," the lead attorney for the plaintiffs on the case, Annick Persinger, told The Hill.

"The findings in the recent Congressional report really document the dangers to neurological development for this very vulnerable group of infants in their first year of life. Having words like 'naturals' in the name just adds insult to injury," Persinger continued.

A Beech-Nut spokesperson contended to The Hill in an email Thursday that the company's products are safe for consumption.

"While we do not comment on specific, pending litigation, we want to assure parents that Beech-Nut products are and have always been safe and nutritious," a spokesperson said.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA, in partnership with the Baby Food Council, on science-based standards that food suppliers can implement across our industry. Beech-Nut is committed to continually refining its internal standards and testing processes as technology and knowledge develops," they added.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a report from the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy earlier this month that found that Beech-Nut, among other companies, "routinely used high-arsenic additives" as well as "many ingredients with high lead content" in various baby food products.

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"These results are multiples higher than allowed under existing regulations for other products," read the committee's report.

At the time, Beech-Nut told The Hill that it was reviewing the committee's findings.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA, in partnership with the Baby Food Council, on science-based standards that food suppliers can implement across our industry," a company spokesperson said earlier this month.

--Updated