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Nestle's Gerber and Hain Celestial Among Baby Food Makers Found With Toxic Metal Levels

A congressional panel found that four different baby foods makers had high levels of toxic metals in their products.
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A congressional investigation found high levels of toxic metals in several top baby foods brands, including Nestle's NSRGY Gerber, Hain Celestial Group's  (HAIN) - Get Hain Celestial Group, Inc. Report Earth's Best Organic, Beech-Nut and Nurture. 

The investigation also expressed strong concern that the lack of cooperation from Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report, Campbell  (CPB) - Get Campbell Soup Company Report, and Sprout meant that those companies' baby foods' brands had even higher levels of toxic metals.  

Baby foods made by Gerber, Hain, Beech-Nut and Nurture all contained "dangerously high levels" of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury, according to a staff report from the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.

Each of those companies responded to the subcommittee's requests for information such as their internal testing policies, test results and documentation. However, Walmart, Campbell Soup and Sprout refused to cooperate with the investigation, according to Thursday's release. 

All of the companies who responded to the investigation tested positive for arsenic, lead and cadmium. Nurture, the only company to actually test for mercury, sold finished baby food products containing as much as 10 parts per billion (ppb) mercury. 

Nurture sold foods that contained as much as 180 ppb inorganic arsenic. Over 25% of the products Nurture tested before sale contained over 100 ppb inorganic arsenic. 

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Gerber used high-arsenic ingredients, using 67 batches of rice flour that had tested for over 90 ppb inorganic arsenic. 

"The Trump administration ignored a secret industry presentation to federal regulators revealing increased risks of toxic heavy metals in baby foods," the subcommittee said.   

The previous administration's Food and Drug Administration "took no new action" in response to the presentation and manufacturers to this day still are free to test only ingredients or to conduct no test at all. 

The subcommittee recommended mandatory testing, labeling and increased standards among other changes. 

"Lead exposure severely affects academic achievement in children. Even at low levels, early childhood lead exposure has a negative impact on school performance," the subcommittee said. 

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