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Earth’s Best Baby Food Recall 2021: Everything You Need To Know

Updated on 12 October 2021 • 11 minute read
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Overview

As much as 95% of baby foods might have high levels of toxic heavy metals. Popular baby food manufacturers know it but are getting away with selling these tainted items to unsuspecting customers. (1)(2)

Congressional baby food safety reports released last February and September 2021 showed that several popular brands knowingly released baby food products with very high heavy metal content: (2)(3)

  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic)
  • Gerber
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company (Beech-Nut)
  • Nurture, Inc. (Happy Family Organics, HappyBABY Organics, and HappyTOTS)
  • Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics)
  • Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods)
  • Walmart Inc. (Parent’s Choice)

 

Despite knowing that their products have high toxic chemical content, these baby food manufacturers didn’t correct them. Instead, they increased their internal limits. So, their products passed internal standards but failed the federal standards. (2)(3)

Many of these baby food companies have also been called out for their toxic content in the past years.

In 2019, an HBBF (Healthy Babies Bright Futures) report showed that as much as 95% of baby foods from different brands sold in the US might have high levels of toxic heavy metals. (1)

In 2018, a Consumer Reports independent study showed that all the packaged baby foods they tested have measurable levels of at least one toxic metal. (4) 

At least fifteen baby foods tested by Consumer Reports may pose potential health risks, even if eaten just once a day. (4) 

So, how did these popular baby food manufacturers react to these reports? Did they issue a recall on their tainted products? Are there any Earth’s Best Baby Food recalls? Find out more below.

 

Earth’s Best Baby Food Recalls

No recalls on Earth’s Best Baby Food products have been issued by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) or the company concerning toxic elements. (2)(3)(4) 

These were the only Earth’s Best baby food recalls that have been issued:

 

Earth’s Best Baby Food Recall (2007)

On February 16, 2007, Hain Celestial Group Inc. recalled Earth’s Best Organic (stage 2) products that may have been contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. This pathogen can cause botulism (a severe form of food poisoning). (5)

These products were recalled: (5)

  • Apple Peach Barley Wholesome Breakfast (4.5-ounce jars in individual packs and 4.5-ounce jars in 12 packs) with UPC 23923-20223 and expiry date of September 14, 2008
  • Wholesome Breakfast Variety Pack (12 pack) with UPC 23923-20295 and expiry date of September 13, 2008

 

No illnesses have been reported relevant to this baby food recall. But affected consumers were instructed to dispose of the products, even if these didn’t look spoiled or contaminated. (5)

The FDA warned that botulism can cause: (5)

  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Paralysis
  • Restricted breathing or even death in severe cases

 

Healthy Babies Bright Futures Comprehensive Food Safety Test

HBBF (Healthy Babies Bright Futures) commissioned independent tests of 168 baby foods from 61 brands. (1)

The tests showed that as much as 95% of baby foods might have high levels of toxic heavy metals: (1)

  • Arsenic: 73% of baby foods
  • Lead: 94% of baby foods
  • Mercury: 32% of baby foods
  • Cadmium: 75% of baby foods

 

What’s alarming is that 26% of these tested baby foods have all four toxic chemicals in a single container. (1)

HBBF expressed concern over these findings, especially because studies have shown that exposure to heavy metals can negatively affect your growing child’s body and brain development. (1)(6)(7)

Acknowledging the absence of a known safe level for heavy metal exposure, HBBF urges baby food manufacturers to establish a goal of having no measurable amounts of heavy metals in any baby and children’s food. (1)

 

Earth’s Best Baby Food in HBBF Study

The following are some of Earth’s Best Baby Food tested in the HBBF study: (1)

 

Earth’s Best Whole Grain Rice Cereal

  • Total arsenic: 138 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 113 ppb
  • Lead: 22.5 ppb
  • Cadmium: 14.7 ppb
  • Mercury: 2.41 ppb

 

Earth’s Best Chicken and Brown Rice Organic Baby Food, 6+ months

  • Total arsenic: 34.4 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 13 ppb
  • Lead: 18.3 ppb
  • Cadmium: 1.9 ppb
  • Mercury: 0.232 ppb

 

Earth’s Best Whole Grain Oatmeal Cereal

  • Total arsenic: 29.5 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 27 ppb
  • Lead: 2 ppb
  • Cadmium: 20.1 ppb
  • Mercury: <0.277 ppb

 

Earth’s Best Sweet Potatoes Organic Baby Food, 4+ months

  • Total arsenic: 3.3 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: 14.7 ppb
  • Cadmium: 4.6 ppb
  • Mercury: <0.136 ppb

 

Earth’s Best Sesame Street Organic Peanut Butter Baked Corn Puffs

  • Total arsenic: 4.4 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: 1.3 ppb
  • Cadmium: 26 ppb
  • Mercury: <0.278 ppb

 

Earth’s Best Sunny Days Snack Bars – Sweet Potato Carrot 

  • Total arsenic: 13.9 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: 3.8 ppb
  • Cadmium: 10.5 ppb
  • Mercury: 0.161 ppb

 

The following Earth’s Best products also have measurable toxic heavy metal content, but all are within government regulations: (1)

  • Carrots Organic Baby Food, 6+ months
  • First Carrots Organic Baby Food, 4+ months
  • Winter Squash Organic Baby Food, 6+ months 
  • First Peas Organic Baby Food, 4+ months
  • Apples Organic Baby Food, 6+ months
  • First pears, 4+ months
  • Spinach and Potato Organic Baby Food, 6+ months
  • Organic Turkey Quinoa Apple Sweet Potato (Homestyle Meal Puree)
  • Organic Chicken Pot Pie Homestyle Meal Puree
  • Organic Sweet Potato Cinnamon Flax & Oat (Breakfast Puree), 6+ months
  • Sesame Street Organic Fruit Yogurt Smoothie (Apple Blueberry)
  • Organic Sensitivity – DHR/ARA Infant Formula (Organic Milk-Based Powder with Iron)

 

Consumer Reports Food Safety Test

In 2018, Consumer Reports tested 50 baby foods for heavy metals and had these results: (4) 

  • About 68% of baby foods can have high levels of at least one toxic metal.
  • At least 15 baby foods have potential health risks if eaten daily
  • Products containing sweet potatoes or rice can have higher toxic metal levels
  • Organic foods can have similar heavy metal content as conventional baby foods

 

Despite these troubling results, Consumer Reports explained that eating these foods doesn’t automatically cause health and growth issues for your baby. But regular intake of these foods may increase the risk of developing these health problems. (4) 

But Consumer Reports warned that young children exposed to other toxic chemical sources (such as lead paint or contaminated water) can have increased risks. (4) 

 

Baby Foods With Limited Daily Intake

These products may pose “more concern” and are best eaten in moderation (with daily serving limits): (4) 

 

Earth’s Best Organic

  • Chicken & Brown Rice (<1 serving)
  • Sunny Days Snack Bars, Strawberry (<1 serving)
  • Whole Grain Oatmeal Cereal (<2.5 servings)
  • Sweet Potatoes, 1st Stage (<0.5 serving)
  • Whole Grain Rice Cereal (<1 serving)

 

Baby Mum-Mum 

  • Banana Rice Rusks (<3 servings)
  • Vegetable Rice Rusks (3 servings)

 

Happy Baby Organics 

  • Organic Probiotic Baby Cereal (<3 servings)
  • Organics Superfood Puffs, Apple & Broccoli (<1 serving)
  • Organics Superfood Puffs, Purple Carrot & Blueberry (<1 serving)

 

Beech-Nut 

  • Classics Sweet Potatoes (<0.5 serving)
  • Complete Rice Single Grain Baby Cereal (<3 servings)
  • Complete Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal (<2.5 servings)
  • Organic Oatmeal Whole Grain Baby Cereal (<2.5 servings)

 

Gerber 

  • Turkey & Rice (<1 serving)
  • Lil’ Meals flavor White Turkey Stew With Rice and Vegetables (<0.5 serving)
  • Carrot, Pear & Blackberry (<1 serving)
  • Carrots Peas & Corn With Lil’ Bits (<1 serving)
  • Oatmeal Single Grain Cereal (<2.5 servings)
  • Organic Oatmeal Cereal (<2.5 servings)
  • Graduates Arrowroot Cookies (<6 servings)
  • Graduates Cinnamon Graham Animal Crackers (<4.5 servings)
  • Graduates Banana Cookies (<4 servings)
  • Graduates Waffle Wheels Puffed Grain Snack, Banana Cream (<3 servings)
  • Graduates Lil’ Biscuits Vanilla Wheat (<2.5 servings)
  • Graduates Cereal Bars, Strawberry Banana (<1.5 servings)

 

Plum Organics 

  • Little Yums Organic Teething Wafers, Pumpkin & Banana (<5.5 servings)
  • Just Sweet Potato Organic Baby Food (<1 serving)
  • Mighty Sticks Whole Grain Snacks, Berry Beet (<1.5 servings)

 

Parent’s Choice (Walmart)

  • Little Puffs Cereal Snack, Strawberry Apple (<1.5 servings)

 

Sprout Organic 

  • Quinoa Puffs Baby Cereal Snack, Apple Kale (<1.5 servings)
  • Garden Vegetables Brown Rice With Turkey (<1 serving)

 

Baby Foods With No Daily Limits

These products have low levels of heavy metals. They may pose “less concern” and have no daily limits for consumption, based on the same report: (4) 

 

Ella’s Kitchen 

  • Apples + Strawberries Nibbly Fingers

 

Beech-Nut 

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

 

Happy Baby Organics 

  • Purple Carrots, Bananas, Avocados & Quinoa

 

Gerber 

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

 

Earth’s Best Baby Food In Congressional Reports

First Subcommittee Congressional Report

The US House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, headed by Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, called on these popular baby food manufacturers to submit their internal policies and heavy metal test results: (2)

  • Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic)
  • Nurture, Inc. (Happy Family Organics, HappyBABY, and HappyTOTS)
  • Beech-Nut Nutrition Company (Beech-Nut)
  • Gerber
  • Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics)
  • Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods)
  • Walmart Inc. (Parent’s Choice)

 

Hain, Nurture, Beech-Nut, and Gerber were the only brands that submitted their results and internal policies for the first Subcommittee Report. (2)

According to the House Subcommittee, these companies knew that their products had dangerous levels of heavy metals but didn’t correct them to meet government regulations. Instead, they increased their maximum levels so these products could pass. (2)

The FDA’s inorganic arsenic limit is 100 ppb (parts per billion) for infant rice cereals, but these companies increased their limits: (2)(8) 

  • Hain (arsenic): 200 ppb
  • Beech-Nut (arsenic): 3,000 ppb
  • Nurture (arsenic): 115 ppb

 

The FDA set these maximum limits for bottled water: (8)

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

 

But the baby food companies increased their internal limits to several times the FDA standards: (2)

  • Hain (lead): 200 ppb
  • Hain (cadmium): 200 ppb
  • Beech-Nut (lead): 5,000 ppb
  • Beech-Nut (cadmium): 3,000 ppb

 

Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Earth’s Best Organic)

Hain told the Subcommittee that it doesn’t test for heavy metal content. Instead, “theoretical calculations” are done based on the raw ingredients’ results. (2)

The company set internal limits that are higher than FDA standards: (2)

  • Arsenic: 200 ppb
  • Lead: 200 ppb
  • Cadmium: 200 ppb

 

But they still released products with toxic content much higher than their internal testing standards: (2)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 309 ppb (raw ingredients)
  • Up to 129 ppb (finished baby food products)

 

Mercury:

  • No mercury test.

 

Lead:

  • Up to 352 ppb (raw ingredients)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 260 ppb (raw ingredients)

 

Nurture, Inc. (HappyBABY, HappyTOTS, And Happy Family Organics)

Nurture, Inc. submitted these test results to the Subcommittee: (2)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 180 ppb (variation: Apple & Broccoli Puffs)
  • Up to 160 ppb (variation: Strawberry & Beet Puffs)
  • Up to 160 ppb (variation: Banana & Pumpkin Puffs)
  • Up to 100 ppb (over 25% of Nurture baby products)

 

Mercury:

  • Up to 10 ppb (variation: Brown Rice Cereal Canister)
  • Up to 9.8 ppb (variation: Banana Sweet Potato)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 641 ppb (variation: Blueberry Purple Carrot)
  • Up to 560 ppb (variation: Multi-Grain Cereal Canister)
  • Up to 10 ppb (variation: Nurture vegetables and rice products)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 49 ppb (variation: Multi-Grain Cereal Canister)
  • Up to 36 ppb (variation: Strawberry Raspberry)
  • Up to 5 ppb (around 65% of Nurture products)

 

Gerber Products Company

Gerber only tests the heavy metal content of raw materials, not in the finished products. (2)

 

Mercury:

  • No mercury test.

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 90 ppb (rice flour, raw ingredient)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 48 ppb (sweet potatoes, raw ingredient)

 

Cadmium:

  • More than 5 ppb in carrots (75% of raw ingredients)
  • Up to 87 ppb (carrots, raw ingredient)
  • No cadmium test for other raw materials

 

Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics) Results

The Subcommittee said that Campbell Soup Company refused to submit their internal standards or actual test results but insisted that their baby foods “meet criteria.” (2)

So, the Subcommittee released these test results for Plum Organics (variant: Just Sweet Potato) from the HBBF report: (1)

 

Mercury:

  • Less than 0.142 ppb

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 3.1 ppb

 

Lead:

  • Up to 5.6 ppb 

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 2.3 ppb

 

Test results from Plum Organics were published in the new report by the Subcommittee. But these showed that the products have higher heavy metal content than those in the HBBF report: (1)(3)

  • Arsenic: Over 200 ppb arsenic (all Plum’s Super Puff rice-based products)
  • Lead: Over 5 ppb lead (54.5% of all Plum Organics products)
  • Cadmium: Over 5 ppb cadmium (38.3% of all Plum Organics products)

 

Walmart Inc. (Parent’s Choice)

According to the Subcommittee, Walmart refused to submit internal standards or test results. The following are data from the HBBF report: (1)(2)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 108 ppb (variation: Organic Strawberry Rice Rusks)
  • Up to 56.1 ppb (variation: Little Hearts Strawberry Yogurt Cereal Snack)

 

Mercury:

  • Up to 2.05 ppb (variation: Organic Strawberry Rice Rusks)
  • Up to 0.941 ppb (variation: Little Hearts Strawberry Yogurt Cereal Snack)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 26.9 ppb (variation: Organic Strawberry Rice Rusks)
  • Up to 5.2 ppb (variation: Little Hearts Strawberry Yogurt Cereal Snack)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 26.1 ppb (variation: Little Hearts Strawberry Yogurt Cereal Snack)
  • Up to 2.4 ppb (variation: Organic Strawberry Rice Rusks)

 

Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods)

The company never responded to the Subcommittee. These test results for Organic Quinoa Puffs Baby Cereal Snack (variation: Apple Kale) are from the HBBF report: (1)(2)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 107 ppb

 

Mercury:

  • Up to 1.31 ppb

 

Lead:

  • Up to 39.3 ppb

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 41.5 ppb

 

Beech-Nut Nutrition Company (Beech-Nut)

Beech-Nut declared that all its ingredients passed internal standards. However, they had set much higher maximum limits than FDA standards for similar foods. So, these results still fail government regulations: (2)

 

Mercury:

  • No mercury test.

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 913.4 ppb (raw materials)
  • More than 300 ppb (in additives or ingredients used in various products)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 886.9 ppb (raw materials)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 344.55 ppb (raw materials)

 

Second Congressional Report

According to the follow-up report released by the House Subcommittee in September 2021 based on independent tests conducted by the state of Alaska, the companies still produce the same products with harmful heavy metal content. (2)(3)

None of the baby food companies mentioned in the first report notified the public of their heavy metal content or recalled the tainted products. (3)

 

Earth’s Best Baby Food Lawsuits 

Several class suits have been filed against the companies listed on the first Congressional Report, including Hain Celestial Group Inc. (manufacturer of Earth’s Best baby food products). (9)(10)

A class suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York City, New York, in February 2021 claims that Hain “misleadingly portrays” its Earth’s Best Organic products as “time-trusted and safe” and “are made from pure ingredients to help children grow up strong and healthy.” (9)

Another lawsuit was filed against the makers of Earth’s Best Organic, Gerber, Beech-Nut, and Happy Baby for producing baby foods with toxic metals that allegedly caused harm to at least seven children diagnosed with autism in Las Vegas, Nevada. (10)

The first Congressional Report was used as the basis of this lawsuit, with the companies accused of “knowingly selling tainted baby foods” to unsuspecting parents. (10)

 

How Heavy Metals Get Into Food

Heavy metals can be found on the Earth’s surface. Still, the toxic chemicals in food may come from contaminated water or soil due to pesticides and other farming practices. (4) 

Contamination may also be possible from tainted machinery or manufacturing processes used in making baby foods. (4) 

 

Reducing Heavy Metals in Baby Food Products

Heavy metals, even in low concentrations, can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. So, Consumer Reports and the US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) call for the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 to be passed into law. (11) 

Under this law, the FDA needs to create and strictly implement baby food regulations with much lower maximum heavy metal limits than the current standards. (11) 

It also requires baby food manufacturers to test both ingredients and finished products. These test results must be released to parents and regulatory agencies. (11) 

 

Healthier Baby Food Products

The following baby food products may be healthier alternatives:

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

 

Preparing Healthier Alternatives At Home

You can prepare your baby’s food using these ingredients: (4)  

  • Quality meats, poultry, or fish
  • Whole or puréed vegetables and fruits (avocados, apples, bananas, peaches, grapes, and strawberries)
  • Organic eggs 
  • Bone broth
  • Healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee)
  • Raw yogurt
  • Coconut yogurt 
  • Quinoa 
  • Oats 
  • Applesauce (unsweetened)

 

You can also do the following: (1)(4)

  • Avoid using brown rice (higher levels of inorganic arsenic content than white rice)
  • Sushi rice from the US or white basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan can be healthier alternatives to brown rice
  • Feed your baby with carrots and sweet potatoes in moderation. These can have high levels of lead or cadmium but are important sources of vitamin A and other nutrients. 
  • Limit your baby’s intake of infant rice cereal (or other infant cereal products)
  • Limit packaged snacks and teething biscuits
  • Prepare rice using larger amounts of water (6 to 10 parts water to 1 part rice). Drain afterward to help reduce levels of arsenic.
  • Avoid processed fruit juices.
  • Avoid chocolates
  • Avoid high-mercury fish: bigeye tuna, king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and orange roughy.
  • Test your drinking water for high arsenic levels.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.healthybabyfood.org/sites/healthybabyfoods.org/files/2020-04/BabyFoodReport_ENGLISH_R6.pdf

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

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

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

(5) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canadian-watchdog-warns-consumers-about-recalled-baby-food-1.636779

(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23570911/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4418502/

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

(9) https://news.bloomberglaw.com/litigation/hain-celestial-latest-baby-food-maker-sued-over-heavy-metals

(10) https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2021/03/04/603869.htm

(11) https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/shopping/2021/06/09/beech-nutbaby-food-recall-2021-rice-cereal-arsenic/7621243002/

 

 

 

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