Lead in baby food prompts California environmental lawsuit

Anissa Ford's picture

Three years ago in Oakland, the Environmental Law Foundation informed food companies that apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears, peaches and baby food contained levels of lead high enough that consumers had a legal right to know.

The major concern about lead and foods is its link to cancer as well as reproductive harm. Furthermore, Californians are particularly worried about their survival in toxic environments, particularly air, food and water, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that sent toxic chemicals and debris floating to the Pacific coast via air and water.

Led is known to cause cancer, a fact established in 1987. Led also causes fetal damage as the chemical is passed on from the mother’s bloodstream to the fetus. This too was established as fact in 1987. Lead exposure can damage a child’s developing brain and lead to a lower IQ (USA Today).

ELF filed the complaint in June of 2010 against 49 companies. Today, a number of big name baby food makers are in litigation due to the complaint that alleges companies from Gerber to Del Monte, violate California’s law Proposition 65.

California’s Prop 65 Toxic Right to Know Law went into effect in 1986. The law requires states to publish chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. Proposition 65 limits lead levels to 0.5 micro-grams per serving.

Companies cited say although the juices have lead, the levels are not high enough to warrant a food label warning. Representatives for some of the baby food manufacturers said the FDA has tested lead levels in the products.

Even so, ELF contends that the warnings are necessary.

Scientists agree that there is no way to determine exactly how much or little lead exposure guarantees freedom from health and cancer risks.

ELF’s goals companies to remove lead from its packaged and processed foods.

Companies argue that the federal government has determined that foods produced and packaged by their companies are foods that the same government determined Americans need more of.

Reference: USA Today
* Food Production Daily

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