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Klobuchar, Krishnamoorthi, Duckworth, and Cardenas Introduce Legislation to Raise Food Safety and Enforcement Standards for Commercial Baby and Toddler Food

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tammy Duckworth introduced the Baby Food Safety Act of 2024 to limit harmful heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in baby food. This legislation empowers the FDA to enforce stringent safety standards and mandates rigorous sampling and testing by manufacturers. The bill aims to enhance transparency and improve food facility inspections for both domestic and imported products. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tony Cárdenas are leading the companion House bill. The bill follows years of advocacy and multiple reports revealing high levels of neurotoxic heavy metals in baby foods, posing significant risks to children’s health and development. The proposed law sets maximum allowable limits for heavy metals and strengthens the FDA’s regulatory and enforcement capabilities to protect infants and toddlers from toxic contaminants.


May 9, 2024
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US Lawmakers target heavy metals in baby food with new legislation

Senators Klobuchar, Duckworth, along with Rep. Krishnamoorthi and Rep. Cardenas introduced “The Baby Food Safety Act of 2024” to limit harmful metals in commercial baby food. The bill grants the FDA new authority to enforce stringent safety standards and mandates comprehensive testing for toxic metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in both domestic and imported baby foods. The FDA has been repeatedly urged to address these issues, following incidents of high toxin levels in popular baby foods and severe lead poisoning cases linked to contaminated products.


May 9, 2024
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US Congressman demands FDA commit to deadlines for reducing toxic metals in baby food

Rep. Krishnamoorthi has pressured the FDA to commit to reducing toxic heavy metals in baby food, setting a deadline for the agency to respond by May 10. Krishnamoorthi, frustrated with the FDA’s slow progress, criticized the agency for failing to establish limits on neurotoxic metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, despite a congressional report highlighting dangerous levels in baby foods. The FDA’s Closer to Zero program, intended to set strict limits, has fallen behind schedule, now projecting final guidelines by the end of 2025. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, Krishnamoorthi demands finalized guidance for lead by the end of 2024 and for other heavy metals by the end of 2025. He attributes the delay to industry resistance and emphasizes the need for regulatory agencies to remain independent of industry influence to ensure public safety.


April 30, 2024
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FDA Closer to Zero: Reducing Childhood Exposure to Contaminants from Foods

The FDA aims to minimize dietary exposure to contaminants while ensuring access to nutritious foods, particularly for vulnerable infants and young children. The Closer to Zero initiative builds on previous progress in reducing environmental contaminants in food. The FDA’s efforts include research and analysis, regulation, and consultation. The FDA recognizes the complexity of reducing contaminants without compromising nutritional benefits. The agency is committed to a science-based, transparent process, actively engaging stakeholders, and publicly sharing data.


April 12, 2024
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Food Safety Matters Podcast: Engaging Stakeholers for a Unified FDA Human Foods Program

In an interview with Food Safety Matters Podcast, James (Jim) Jones, FDA’s first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods since September 2023, emphasizes stakeholder engagement, public interest, and collaboration to ensure transparency and represent diverse interests. He supports FDA’s Closer to Zero initiative to reduce heavy metals in baby foods and advocates for proactive federal regulation over a patchwork of state laws.


April 9, 2024
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Rudy’s Law passes in Maryland, requiring testing baby food for toxic metals

Maryland has become the second state to mandate baby food manufacturers to test for toxic heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. The law is named after Rudy Callahan, an 18-month-old poisoned by lead in WanaBana cinnamon applesauce pouches, which contained lead levels 2,000 times above safety standards. This law requires testing results to be accessible via a QR code on labels by January 2026.


April 4, 2024
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Attorney General Tong Calls on FDA to Protect Children from Lead and Other Toxic Metals in Baby Food

Attorney General William Tong, along with 20 other attorneys general, urged the FDA to take swift action against toxic metals in baby food. This call follows nearly 400 cases of childhood lead poisoning linked to recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches. The coalition emphasized the need for mandatory testing and stricter regulations on toxic metals in baby food.


February 19, 2024
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Alarming loss of nutrients, rise in toxins seen in rice and wheat over 50 years – India

A study funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) shows a downward trend in concentrations of essential and beneficial in nutrients (e.g., zinc and iron in rice decreasing by 33 and 27%, in wheat by 30 and 19%) and rise in toxins (arsenic in rice increasing by ~1500%).


January 25, 2024
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Prop 65 cases spike post-pandemic with focus on heavy metals, settlement amounts rise

Since the pandemic, Prop 65 cases in California alleging inadequate warnings about toxic chemicals in food and beverage products have surged. In 2023, over 1,000 cases were filed, with lead being the primary concern in 84% of cases. Settlement amounts also increased significantly, reaching $40.3 million.


January 15, 2024
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Cinnamon applesauce investigation finds lead levels more than 2,000 times higher than proposed standards, FDA says

During a US FDA inspection of an Ecuadorian facility linked to contaminated applesauce pouches, cinnamon samples were found to have lead levels over 2,000 times higher than proposed standards. The FDA is investigating high lead levels in cinnamon applesauce pouches sold under WanaBana, Weis, and Schnucks brands, which have been recalled following 69 reported illnesses in children under 6. The contamination may have been intentional, and the FDA is increasing screening of imported cinnamon.


December 19, 2023
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Klobuchar, colleagues call on FDA to swiftly address high levels of toxic heavy metals in food for babies and young children

Senators Klobuchar and Duckworth, along with several House Representatives, urged the FDA to expedite its “Closer to Zero” guidance addressing toxic heavy metals in baby and toddler foods. This follows a recall of apple cinnamon puree pouches with high lead levels. The lawmakers emphasized the need for stricter regulation and testing of baby food products to prevent further harm to children’s health. They also highlighted the importance of including food pouches in the finalized guidelines.


December 1, 2023
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California mandates toxics testing/disclosure for baby food

California’s new law mandates baby food manufacturers to test and disclose levels of four toxic metals—arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Starting in 2024, manufacturers must test monthly and publish results online by 2025. This transparency aims to protect children and set a precedent for stricter safety standards. With this law, California enhances consumer access to safety information and pressures the industry to reduce harmful contaminants in baby food.


October 11, 2023
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Heavy metals Still Problem for Baby Food Brands Five Years Later

A Consumer Reports study found that heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead continue to persist in baby foods, 5 years after their 2018 findings. Retesting revealed presence of heavy metals in major brands like Earth’s Best Organic and Gerber, especially in foods made with rice, sweet potatoes, and carrots. The study highlighted that risks remain high for children, with some products showing increased contamination levels.


June 27, 2023
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WHO turns foodborne estimates focus to heavy metals

The World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on the burden of disease caused by foodborne exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium, methylmercury, arsenic, and lead. They are seeking experts to conduct systematic reviews to estimate the global disease burden from these exposures. This includes chronic kidney disease from cadmium, intellectual disabilities from methylmercury and lead, and cancers from arsenic. The Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) will publish updated estimates by 2025.


June 5, 2023
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Baby Foods With Toxic Metals Stay on US Market While FDA Dithers

A Bloomberg Law investigation revealed that almost all of the 33 baby food products tested contained heavy metals. Despite awareness of these dangers for decades, the FDA’s regulation has been inadequate, with only limited and non-enforceable guidance issued. The agency’s slow action and minimal progress on its “Closer to Zero” program has left children exposed to these harmful substances. Critics argue that the FDA’s efforts are insufficient and slow, with enforceable limits on most baby foods not expected until at least 2024. Lawmakers have proposed stricter regulations, but these have yet to be enacted. Families and advocacy groups continue to push for immediate action to ensure the safety of baby foods.


January 5, 2023
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Podcast: Reducing toxic metals in food

The podcast “Reducing Toxic Metals in Food” addresses concerns about neurotoxic elements like lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium found in baby food, as highlighted by a congressional report. Host Kerri Jansen and reporter Britt Erickson discuss the sources of these metals, including environmental contamination and natural occurrences. They explore efforts by scientists, regulators, and manufacturers to reduce metal levels. The episode underscores the need for improved regulations and practices to protect children’s health from these harmful contaminants.


September 6, 2022
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Disturbing Levels Of Toxic Heavy Metals Found In Major Baby Food Brands, Congressional Report Reveals

A congressional report reveals alarming levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, in major baby food brands. These metals, classified as neurotoxins, can severely impact developing babies and toddlers by hindering brain development, causing behavioral problems, and potentially increasing cancer risk. The FDA has not yet established safety standards for most foods, except for arsenic in infant rice cereals. The metals, present in various foods like rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, juices, and spices, originate from natural sources and environmental pollution.


September 6, 2022
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‘The FDA has been absent without leave on this issue…’ Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi on heavy metals in baby food

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi criticizes the FDA’s inaction on regulating heavy metals in baby food, emphasizing the urgency to implement stricter standards. Following a report revealing dangerous levels of metals, Krishnamoorthi along with other US Congress leaders introduced the Baby Food Safety Act, which aims to improve transparency, enforce rigorous testing and enforcement. He urges immediate FDA action to prioritize children’s health over industry pressures.


September 6, 2022
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