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Consumer Reports praises NY Attorney General’s effort to petition FDA to accelerate actions to limit toxic heavy metals in baby foods

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumer Reports today praised the effort by a coalition of 23 state attorneys general to urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to accelerate actions to remove toxic heavy metals found in baby foods.


New York Attorney General Letitia James said this afternoon that the coalition is petitioning the FDA in response to “rising alarm about the health hazards posed by dangerous heavy metals in these foods, and the failure of baby food brands and their suppliers to aggressively reduce these hazards.”


For years, Consumer Reports has pressed the FDA to step up its efforts to reduce the levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in baby foods.


Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy for Consumer Reports, said, “Baby food products with concerning levels of toxic heavy metals continue to be manufactured and sold, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that the timelines in the FDA’s ‘Closer To Zero’ plan for addressing this critical public health issue are inadequate.  There’s a growing stack of evidence that shows the U.S. must move faster for the sake of infants’ safety. Consumer Reports strongly supports the expedited, science-based approach called for in Attorney General James’ petition, which offers a much-needed path to ensuring the safety of the baby food parents and caregivers serve their children every day.”


Yesterday, CR sent letters to baby food companies to ask them to suspend the manufacturing and sale of infant rice cereal, citing the high levels of inorganic arsenic that continue to show up in these products.  CR said manufacturing and sales should be paused until a more protective health standard for inorganic arsenic is implemented through updated government regulations or voluntary industry measures.  CR pointed to its own investigations and recent congressional reports on heavy metals in baby food.  CR is asking consumers to sign a petition to the companies at ConsumerReports.org/ricecereal


The petition announced today by the New York Attorney General calls on FDA to issue interim action levels for limiting heavy metal contamination in baby food “more expeditiously than the timelines announced by FDA in their Closer to Zero plan,” under which the FDA would issue guidance on limiting lead in baby food in the middle of 2022, guidance for limiting inorganic arsenic by April 2024, and guidance for limiting cadmium and mercury sometime after April 2024. 


The state petition notes that although “the FDA does set limits on toxic metals in other consumable products — like bottled water, juice, and candy — the agency has failed to adequately regulate baby food.”




Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org