Investigation Finds Baby Food Products 'Tainted with Significant Levels of Toxic Heavy Metals'

A new report finds several leading brands of baby products contain "dangerous levels" of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.

The U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight's subcommittee on economic and consumer policy unveiled the findings of an investigation on Thursday. In 2019, the subcommittee requested internal documents from seven leading baby food manufacturers related to alleged high amounts of the detrimental metals.

Nurture, Inc. (Happy Family Organics, HappyBABY); Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth's Best Organic); Beech-Nut Nutrition Company (Beech-Nut); and Gerber complied with the request.

Three companies did not comply, however: Walmart, Inc. (Parent's Choice); Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods); and Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics). The subcommittee said it is "greatly concerned" over their lack of participation

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Arsenic, lead and cadmium were present in products from all companies who participated, according to the report.

"According to internal company documents and test results obtained by the Subcommittee, commercial baby foods are tainted with significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury," reads the report. "Exposure to toxic heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children. Toxic heavy metals endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function."

Subcommittee Chair Raja Krishnamoorthi told The Washington Post: "The FDA must set standards and regulate this industry much more closely, starting now. It's shocking that parents are basically being completely left in the lurch by their government."

Hain issued a statement in response to the report, saying the data "does not reflect our current practices" and "as science evolves, so too should our standards and practices." The company added: "Earth's Best has consistently supported efforts to reduce naturally occurring heavy metals from our food supply and stands ready to assist the Subcomittee's efforts toward that goal."

Gerber said in a statement that it remains "fully committed to being industry leaders in providing safe, quality nutrition for babies." It added that they "take many steps to minimize" the presence of heavy metals.

A Happy Family Organics spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement that the 2019 data is "not representative generally of our entire range of products at-shelf today."

"We are disappointed at the many inaccuracies, select data usage and tone bias in this report," added the spokesperson. " We can say with the utmost confidence that all Happy Family Organics products are safe for babies and toddlers to enjoy, and we are proud to have best-in-class testing protocols in our industry."

Beech-Nut, Plum Organics, Sprout Organic Foods, and Walmart did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

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