Fertility

Beech-Nut Vs. Gerber: Which Baby Food Brand Is Better?

Updated on 21 December 2021 • 9 minute read

 

Overview

As many as 90% of parents in the US may turn to commercial baby foods for children below three years old. The baby food industry is expected to reach over $76 billion in sales in 2021 alone. (1)

Beech-Nut and Gerber are among the most popular baby food brands you can easily buy from grocery stores. Both offer a variety of flavors and may be good options as your baby’s first solid food.

But which is the best baby food brand for your little one? What products do they offer? Do they use organic ingredients with no preservatives? Do they have toxic metal content?

Continue reading to find answers to these questions below.

 

Beech-Nut and Gerber: Similarities & Differences

Main Similarities

  • Both baby food brands are readily available in most grocery stores.
  • Both offer a variety of flavors for different stages of your baby’s development.
  • Both may be good options as your baby’s first solid food.
  • Both have been producing baby food for decades: Gerber since 1927 and Beech-Nut since 1931.
  • Both claim to do extensive research and regular tests on their products to ensure quality and safety for your baby.
  • Both are Non-GMO Project Verified. It means that both brands produce baby foods without GMOs (genetically modified organisms). GMOs may cause antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, reduced immune system function, and cancer. (2)
  • Both use BPA-free packaging. BPA (bisphenol-A) is a toxic industrial chemical used in plastic production. (3)
  • Both brands may also have products with high levels of toxic heavy metals, based on tests conducted by Consumer Reports and HBBF (Healthy Babies Bright Futures). (1)(4)
  • Both were called out in the 2021 Congressional Reports for their heavy metal content. They provided the Subcommittee with their test results and internal standards. But their results show high levels of heavy metals in ingredients and/or finished products. (5)(6)
  • But both also claim that their products are safe and within the FDA’s limits.

 

Here’s part of Gerber’s statement:

100% of our foods meet all FDA requirements for our products and our own strict standards. We developed these standards based on the very latest health and safety guidance from organizations like the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the World Health Organization. 

In fact, we have among the strictest standards in the world.

 

Beech-Nut also assures customers that their products are safe:

Our foods are and have been below the proposed FDA arsenic limit for rice cereals.

Even the highest quality, organic and non-GMO fruits and vegetables contain trace amounts of lead because this contaminant commonly occurs naturally in soil.

 

Main Differences

Is Beech-Nut Brand Good For Babies?

  • The brand claims that they use infinitely-recyclable glass jars to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • The brand also claims to produce “real food” with no artificial ingredients.
  • Its Organics line is certified USDA organic.
  • The brand claims that it tests for 255 pesticides, toxins, and heavy metals.
  • None of their products contain soy allergens.
  • Beech-Nut has eliminated salt and sugars in most of its products since 1977, except for foods that “require sweetening to balance natural acids.” (7)

 

What Makes Gerber Better

  • The brand offers various products for kids up to preschool age, including multivitamins and probiotic supplements.
  • The brand has a subscription service for its organic line at $69.99 per month or around $1 to $2 per meal. These baby foods are delivered to your doorstep.
  • The brand also has products for pregnant moms and infant formulas.
  • Both brands test their products, but Gerber claims they have a panel of 2,000 babies or “tiny taste testers” who help ensure that their foods taste good.
  • Gerber is also part of FITS (Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study), an ongoing research to understand children’s diets and behaviors since 2002.
  • The brand claims that its products go through over 100 individual quality checks.

 

Beech-Nut Baby Foods

Products Offered

Beech-Nut offers a variety of foods that can suit your baby’s nutritional needs when you start weaning them.

You can follow the feeding suggestions by choosing foods from the 4+ Months line if you’re feeding your baby for the first time.

But make sure to ask for your pediatrician‘s advice if you’re planning on giving solid foods to a kid less than six months old.

 

4+ Months

  • Infant cereal canisters
  • Classics (single-ingredient pureed baby food jars with broth)
  • Naturals (single-ingredient pureed baby food jars)
  • Organics (single-ingredient pureed organic baby food jars and cereal canisters)

 

Flavors can include the following:

  • Multigrain cereal canister
  • Naturals Sweet Potato Jar
  • Organics Pumpkin Jar

 

Beech-Nut discontinued its rice cereal product line in 2021 after expressing concern about its ability to consistently obtain rice flour that passes the FDA requirements for toxic heavy metal content. (8)

 

6+ Months

  • Infant cereal canisters
  • Classics (multi-ingredient pureed baby food jars with broth)
  • Naturals (multi-ingredient pureed baby food jars)
  • Organics (multi-ingredient pureed baby food jars and cereal canisters)
  • Fruities (pureed baby food in a pouch)
  • Naturals Pouch (pureed baby food in a pouch)

 

Flavors can include:

  • Harvest Dinners Chicken, Pear, & Zucchini Jar
  • Apple, Pear, & Banana Jar
  • Naturals Banana, Blueberries, & Green Beans Jar
  • Carrot, Zucchini, & Pear Veggies Pouch

 

8+ Months

  • Baby Food Jars
  • Baby Food Pouches
  • Melties (freeze-dried snacks with fruits, vegetables, and yogurt)

 

Flavors can include the following:

  • Pear, Mango, Spinach, & Yogurt Melties With Probiotics
  • Naturals Banana, Cinnamon, & Granola Pouch
  • Naturals Carrots, Sweet Corn, & Pumpkin Jar

 

12+ Months

  • Naturals Pouches
  • Fruities Pouches
  • Veggies Pouches
  • Veggie Crisps
  • Oat Bars
  • Fruit & Veggie Bars
  • Melties (freeze-dried snacks with fruits, vegetables, and yogurt)

 

Flavors can include:

  • Apple, Carrot, Mango & Yogurt Melties With Probiotics
  • Strawberry Fruity Oat Bars
  • Sweet Potato Baked Veggie Crisps

 

Nutritional Values

The nutritional values differ among various baby food products. But here’s an example from one of Beech-Nut’s bestsellers on Amazon:

 

Naturals Butternut Squash Jar

Ingredients:

  • Butternut squash

 

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 35 calories
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Fats: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Total sugars: 3 g
  • Added sugars: 0 g
  • Fibers: 1 g
  • Proteins: <1 g
  • Calcium: 28 mg
  • Iron: 1.1 mg
  • Potassium:188 mg

 

Beech-Nut Recall

Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal Recall (2021)

Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal (universal product code# 52200034705) was recalled in June 2021 due to high arsenic content in tests conducted by the State of Alaska. (8)

The recall included the following product codes, with an expiration date code of “01MAY2022”: (8)

  • 103470XXXX
  • 093470XXXX

 

For return or refund processing, you can reach them through:

  • www.beechnut.com/ricecereal
  • 1-866-272-9417

 

Beech-Nut CLASSICS Sweet Potato & Chicken (2015)

Beech-Nut CLASSICS Sweet Potato & Chicken was recalled in April 2015 due to possible contamination with glass. (9)

 

Products with the following codes were called (all have an expiry date code of “DEC 2016”): (9)

  • 12395750815
  • 12395750821

 

For return or refund processing, you can do the following:

  • Return the recalled product to the store
  • Call (518) 839-0300

 

Gerber Baby Foods

Products Offered

Gerber offers a wide range of products, from infant formulas to preschoolers over 24 months old. 

It may be ideal to start with the products for Supported Sitter (4-6 months) as your baby’s first food while weaning from breast milk or formula.

But make sure to ask for a pediatrician’s recommendation before giving solid foods to a baby below six months old.

 

Supported Sitter (4-6 months)

  • 1st Foods (single-ingredient puree in jars)
  • My 1st Veggies (single-ingredient puree in jars)
  • Single grain rice cereals
  • Single grain oatmeal cereals

 

Flavors can include the following for the 1st Foods line:

  • Butternut Squash
  • Natural Apple
  • Natural Green Bean
  • Natural Sweet Potato

 

Sitter (6-8 months)

  • 2nd Foods (multi-ingredient puree in jars)
  • Incredipouch (multi-ingredient puree in a pouch)
  • Multi-ingredient rice cereals
  • Multi-ingredient oatmeal cereals

 

Flavors include the following for the 2nd Foods line:

  • Mac & Cheese with Vegetable Dinner
  • Turkey Rice Dinner
  • Vanilla Custard Pudding with Banana
  • Carrot Tomato & Basil with Balsamic Vinegar

 

Gerber used to offer Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Cereal but has discontinued the product.

 

Crawler (8-12 months)

  • Puffs (baked puffed snacks)
  • Lil’ Crunchies baked (puffed snacks)
  • Melts (freeze-dried fruit and vegetable snack)
  • Whipped melts (freeze-dried fruit and egg white snack)
  • Teethers (gentle teething wafers)
  • Teether Wheels (wheel-shaped teething snacks)
  • BabyPops (puffed snacks)
  • Puffs To Go (cereal snacks)
  • 3rd Foods (baby food jar)
  • Grain & Grow Morning Bowl (multigrain cereal with fruits or veggies)
  • Lil’ Bits (cereal with fruit bits)
  • Yogurt Blends

 

Flavors can include the following:

  • Very Berry Blend Fruit & Veggie Melts
  • Strawberry Apple Puffs
  • Veggie Dip Lil’ Crunchies
  • Strawberry Apple Spinach Teethers
  • Organic Banana Raspberry BabyPops
  • 3rd Foods Pasta Marinara

 

Toddler (12+ months)

  • Grain & Grow Soft Baked Grain Bars
  • Oat Milk Smoothies
  • Lil’ Crunchies

 

Flavors can include the following:

  • Organic Lil’ Crunchies White Bean Hummus
  • Organic Grain & Grow Soft Baked Grain Bars (Banana, Mango, and Pineapple flavor)
  • Organic Banana, Squash, Mango, and Pineapple Smoothie

 

Other Products

The brand also offers the following:

  • Probiotic and vitamin drops
  • Probiotic supplements
  • Multivitamins

 

Nutritional Values

The nutritional values vary among the different baby food products. But here’s an example from one of Gerber’s bestsellers on Amazon:

 

Gerber 2nd Foods Hawaiian Delight Dessert

Ingredients: 

  • Pineapple juice (water and pineapple juice concentrate)
  • Fully ripened bananas
  • White grape juice concentrate
  • Rice flour
  • Whey protein concentrate (from milk)
  • Water
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

 

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 120 calories
  • Sodium: 50 mg
  • Fats: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 28 g
  • Total sugars: 20 g
  • Added sugars: 5 g
  • Fibers: 0 g
  • Proteins: 2 g
  • Calcium: 21 mg
  • Iron: 0.2 mg
  • Potassium: 240 mg
  • Vitamin C: 23 mg

 

Gerber Recall

Gerber Pasta Pick-Ups Cheese Ravioli (2017)

Gerber Pasta Pick-Ups Cheese Ravioli (universal product code #159070) were recalled in March 2017 for undeclared egg components (allergens) on the product label. (10)

This recall affected all the batches/lots without the correct label.

For return or refund processing, you can call 1-800-510-7494.

Gerber Organic 2ND FOODS Pouches (2016)

Gerber Organic 2ND FOODS Pouches were recalled in March 2016 over packaging defects that may cause product spoilage during handling or transport. (11)

These products were affected: (11)

Carrots, Apples & Mangoes

  • Batch 51955335XX, with best before date: July 13, 2016 
  • Batch 51965335XX, with best before date: July 14, 2016

 

Pears, Carrots & Peas

  • Batch 51945335XX, with best before date: July 12, 2016
  • Batch 51955335XX, with best before date: July 13, 2016

 

For return or refund processing, you can call 1-800-706-0556.

 

Congressional Report On Toxic Baby Foods

Which Baby Food Brands Are Toxic?

According to the Congressional Report released in February 2021, several popular baby food brands may have products with alarming levels of heavy metal content. The brands are: (5)

 

Is Beechnut Baby Food Bad?

Beech-Nut declared that all its raw materials passed its internal standards. (5)

Yet, the company apparently set exponentially high internal maximum levels, so these ingredients actually failed the regulations. (5)

 

Here’s the FDA maximum limit for bottled water (in ppb or parts per billion): (12)

  • 10 ppb inorganic arsenic
  • 5 ppb lead
  • 5 ppb cadmium

 

The FDA maximum limit for infant rice cereal:

  • 100 ppb inorganic arsenic

 

Here’s the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) limit for drinking water, which may also apply to food: (13)

  • 2 ppb mercury

 

Instead of complying with these regulations, Beech-Nut created internal standards with increased limits: (5)

  • Arsenic: 3,000 ppb
  • Cadmium: 3,000 ppb
  • Lead: 5,000 ppb

 

The following are some of the results for Beech-Nut products: (5)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • 300+ ppb (additives)
  • 913.4 ppb (raw materials)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 886.9 ppb (raw materials)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 344.55 ppb (raw materials)

 

Mercury:

  • The company doesn’t test for mercury.

 

In September 2021, the Subcommittee follow-up report released test results of Beech-Nut baby food products that still contained dangerously high inorganic arsenic levels. (6)

Three samples of Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal had the following inorganic arsenic levels: (6)

  • Product code 093470XXXX, sample 1: 122 ppb
  • Product code 093470XXXX, sample 2: 116 ppb
  • Product code 103470XXXX: 125 ppb

 

Beech-Nut later issued a recall on these lots and discontinued its rice cereal line. But other products weren’t recalled. (6)(8)

Other Beech-Nut rice cereal product codes that also have results over the FDA’s arsenic limits: (6)

  • 013470XXXX
  • 013351XXXX
  • 243470XXXX
  • 113470XXXX

 

Notably, there were two samples from lot #243470XXXX that showed high levels of inorganic arsenic. According to the Subcommittee, these results prove that that brand should have issued a recall on the other product codes. (6)

 

Is Gerber Baby Food Bad?

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, head of the Congressional Subcommittee, issued the following statement regarding Gerber and the other baby food companies: (5)

My Subcommittee’s investigation has pulled back the curtain on the baby food industry, and each revelation has been more damning than the last. 

I’ve released a new report on toxic metals in baby food, including popular brands such as Gerber’s Infant Rice Cereal products containing dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic.  

We trust these companies with our babies, and they have failed us.

 

Gerber admitted to the Subcommittee that it doesn’t perform heavy metal tests on finished products. Only the raw materials or ingredients are tested. (5)

Here are some of Gerber’s heavy metal test results:

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 90 ppb in rice flour (67 batches)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 48 ppb in sweet potatoes

 

Cadmium:

  • Over 5 ppb in carrot ingredients (75%)
  • Up to 87 ppb (some carrot batches)
  • No test for other raw materials or ingredients.

 

Mercury:

  • The company doesn’t test for mercury.

 

Consumer Reports On Toxic Baby Foods

As many as 90% of US parents choose commercial products over homemade baby foods for children below three years old. So, it’s alarming to learn that many products contain toxic heavy metals. (1)

Consumer Reports showed that 68% of baby foods might have at least one heavy metal in worrisome levels. (1)

 

Baby Foods That May Have High Levels Of Toxic Metals

The study also identified fifteen baby foods that may pose potential health risks if your child eats several servings a day. (1)

These include foods from Beech-Nut and Gerber: (1)

 

Beech-Nut 

  • Complete Rice Single Grain Baby Cereal
  • Organic Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal
  • Complete Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal
  • Classics Sweet Potatoes

 

Gerber 

  • Graduates Arrowroot Cookies
  • Graduates Cinnamon Graham Animal Crackers
  • Graduates Banana Cookies
  • Graduates Waffle Wheels Puffed Grain Snack, Banana Cream
  • Oatmeal Single Grain Cereal
  • Organic Oatmeal Cereal
  • Graduates Lil’ Biscuits Vanilla Wheat
  • Graduates Cereal Bars, Strawberry Banana
  • Turkey & Rice
  • Carrot, Pear & Blackberry
  • Carrots Peas & Corn With Lil’ Bits
  • Lil’ Meals flavor White Turkey Stew With Rice and Vegetables

 

Baby Foods With “Less Concern”

But not all their products have alarming levels of toxic metals. (1)

The same report identifies the following as baby foods with “less concern.” You may give as many servings as you want to your baby: (1)

 

Beech-Nut 

  • Naturals Carrot, Broccoli, Apple & Strawberry
  • Classics Apple, Pear & Banana
  • Quinoa Crispies, Vanilla
  • Organic Just Apple & Green Beans
  • Organic Peas, Green Beans, and Avocado

 

Gerber 

  • Breakfast Buddies Hot Cereal With Real Fruit, Apple Cinnamon
  • Graduates Puffs Cereal Snack, Strawberry Apple
  • Grabbers Strong Veggies, Broccoli, Carrot, Banana, Pineapple
  • Lil’ Beanies Baked Snack Made With Beans, White Cheddar & Broccoli
  • Lil’ Crunchies Baked Corn Snack Mild Cheddar
  • Lil’ Crunchies Baked Corn Snack Vanilla Maple
  • Lil’ Entrées Chicken & Brown Rice With Peas & Corn
  • Organic Puffs, Puffed Grain Snack, Apple
  • Organic Peas, Carrots & Beets

 

What Is The Healthiest Baby Food Brand?

Considering these worrisome toxic metals in Beech-Nut and Gerber products, these may be healthier alternatives to give your baby:

  • Little Spoon (subscription-based)
  • Yumi (subscription-based)
  • Little Journey Organics 
  • Once Upon A Farm 
  • Serenity Kids 

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.consumerreports.org/food-safety/heavy-metals-in-baby-food/

(2) https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/311/ge-foods/ge-food-and-your-health

(3) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331

(4) https://www.healthybabyfood.org/sites/healthybabyfoods.org/files/2019-10/BabyFoodReport_FULLREPORT_ENGLISH_R5b.pdf

(5) https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2021-02-04%20ECP%20Baby%20Food%20Staff%20Report.pdf

(6) https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/ECP%20Second%20Baby%20Food%20Report%209.29.21%20FINAL.pdf

(7) https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1977/02/10/baby-foods-taking-a-closer-look/6691ea12-e9bc-456e-9c49-3f72b56b5d70/

(8) https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/beech-nut-nutrition-company-issues-voluntary-recall-one-lot-beech-nut-single-grain-rice-cereal-and

(9) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls-alerts/beech-nut-nutrition-recalls-baby-food-product-due-possible-foreign-matter

(10) https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/gerber-issues-allergy-alert-clarify-egg-labeling-cheese-ravioli-pasta-pick-upsr

(11) http://news.gerber.com/news/gerber-is-voluntarily-recalling-two-batches-of-gerberR-organic-2nd-foodsR-pouches

(12) https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/arsenic-food-and-dietary-supplements

(13) https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations

 

 

 

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