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Everything You Need To Know About The HappyBABY Organic Food Recall 2021

Updated on 12 October 2021 • 11 minute read
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Overview

Did you know that heavy metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury can harm your baby’s body and brain development, even at low concentrations? Yet, as much as 95% of popular baby foods may have alarmingly high levels of these toxic elements. (1)(2)(3)

Lawmakers and parents are calling for multiple baby food recalls of the possibly toxic products made by popular baby food companies listed on the February 2021 Congressional Report: (4)

 

According to the Congressional Report, these popular name brands knew their ingredients or products contain toxic elements. But they adjusted their internal limits for their baby foods to pass. Then, they proceeded to sell the tainted products to unsuspecting customers. (4) 

In reality, many of these popular baby foods have toxic metal content higher than government standards. (4)

Did Nurture, Inc. submit its internal policies and test results? Are there any HappyTOT or HappyBABY food recalls relating to this toxic metal issue or other problems in the past? Find out more below. (5)

 

HappyBABY Recalls

Nurture Inc. and the rest of the brands in the Congressional Report reportedly have many products tainted with heavy metals. But not one issued a relevant recall or baby food safety warning. (6)

These are the only baby food product recalls that Nurture Inc. has issued:

 

HappyBABY & HappyTOT Baby Food Pouch Recall (2010)

Nurture Inc. recalled several HappyBABY products over possible bacterial contamination, which may cause serious health issues, including severe vomiting and nausea. (7)

HappyBABY Stages 1 and 2 food pouches with expiration dates from November 2010 to January 2011 were recalled: (7)

  • Mango (net wt. 3.5 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00134 7
  • Spinach Mango Pear (net wt. 3.5 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00139 2
  • Apricot Sweet Potato (net wt. 3.5 oz.) – UPC 8 52697

 

The following HappyTOTStage 4 baby food pouches, with expiration dates from November 2010 to January 2011, were also recalled: (7)

  • Green bean, pear & peas (net wt. 4.22 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00127 9
  • Sweet potato, carrot, apple & cinnamon (net wt. 4.22 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00128 6
  • Spinach, mango & pear (net wt. 4.22 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00129 3
  • Butternut squash & apple (net wt. 4.22 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00130 9
  • Banana, peach, coconut & prunes (net wt. 4.22 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00131 6
  • Banana, peach & mango (net wt. 4.22 oz.) – UPC 8 52697 00132 3

 

No other HappyTOT and HappyBABY food products were affected by this recall. (7)

 

HappyTOT Super Foods Oat Bars Recall (2020)

Nurture Inc. issued a voluntary recall on November 3, 2020, on several products, following consumer complaints of some oat bars containing mold. (8)

According to the recall advisory, these bars have a higher water content, making them more susceptible to mold growth. (8)

HappyTOT Super Foods Gluten-Free Oat Bars (flavor: Organic Blueberries and Oatmeal; with UPC 8 19573 01507 2) in the recall: (8)

  • BB 07 APR 2021 20098
  • BB 08 APR 2021 20099
  • BB 09 APR 2021 20100
  • BB 18 MAY 2021 20139
  • BB 19 MAY 2021 20140
  • BB 16 JUN 2021 20168
  • BB 28 AUG 2021 20241

 

HappyTOT Super Foods Gluten-Free Oat Bars (flavor: Organic Bananas, Strawberries, and Sunflower Butter; UPC 8 19573 01508 9) included in the recall: (8)

  • BB 13 APR 2021 20104
  • BB 08 MAY 2021 20129
  • BB 20 MAY 2021 20141
  • BB 21 MAY 2021 20142
  • BB 08 JUN 2021 20160
  • BB 09 JUN 2021 20161
  • BB 15 JUN 2021 20167

 

The recall also included HappyKID Fruit & Oat Bar (flavor: Blueberry + Raspberry) with these product codes: (8)

  • BB 14 APR 2021 20105
  • BB 05 MAY 2021 20126
  • BB 11 MAY 2021 20132
  • BB 01 JUN 2021 20153
  • BB 08 JUN 2021 20190
  • BB 13 JUL 2021 20195
  • BB 04 AUG 2021 20217

 

HappyBABY (Nurture, Inc.) In Congressional Reports On Baby Food Safety

First Subcommittee Congressional Report

The U.S. Congress Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a detailed Congressional Report over the high heavy metal content on products made by popular baby food manufacturers in February 2021. (4)

The Subcommittee, headed by Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, asked these baby food companies to submit internal policies and test results on heavy metals:

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

 

Only four baby food makers provided the Subcommittee with what they were asked for in the first Congressional Report: (4)

  • Gerber
  • Beech-Nut
  • Nurture
  • Hain

 

The second Congressional Report published Plum Organicstest results and internal policies. (6)

The Subcommittee expressed alarm over the food manufacturers’ very high internal maximum limits for heavy metals. These higher limits meant that the baby foods or ingredients passed the company standards but actually failed to meet government limits. (4)(6)

For example, these are the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) maximum limits for bottled water, in ppb (parts per billion): (9)

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

 

Instead of complying, these baby food companies increased their internal standards to exponential levels: (4)

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

 

Also, the FDA’s maximum limit for infant rice cereal is 100 ppb inorganic arsenic. But the following companies set their internal maximum to these: (4)(9)

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

 

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) maximum limit for drinking water (but can be applied to food) is 2 ppb mercury. (10)

 

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

Unlike the other baby food makers that only tested ingredients for heavy metal content, Nurture tested both raw materials and finished products. But the results showed that many of the company’s products have high levels of toxic heavy metals. (4)

Nurture told the Subcommittee that though the finished products are tested, the results aren’t the basis for product release. (4)

Heavy metal test results from Nurture, Inc.: (4)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

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

 

Mercury:

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

 

Lead:

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

 

Cadmium:

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

 

Other Companies In The Congressional Report On Toxic Baby Foods

Aside from Nurture, Inc., these baby food makers were also listed on the Congressional reports: (4)(6)

 

Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics) Results

According to the Subcommittee’s first report, Plum Organics refused to submit internal standards or actual test results. Instead, the company insisted that its finished products “meet criteria.” (4)

So, these test results for Plum Organics Organic Baby Food (flavor: Just Sweet Potato) are from an HBBF (Healthy Babies Bright Futures) report: (3)

 

Mercury:

  • Less than 0.142 ppb

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 3.1 ppb

 

Lead:

  • Up to 5.6 ppb (exceeds the 5-ppb limit)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 2.3 ppb

 

In the second Congressional Report, Plum Organicstest results were finally included. But these showed much higher levels of arsenic and other toxic metals than the HBBF data: (6)

  • Arsenic: Over 200 ppb arsenic (in 100% of Plum’s Super Puff rice-based products)
  • Lead: Over 5 ppb lead (in 54.5% of Plum Organics products)
  • Cadmium: Over 5 ppb cadmium (in 38.3% of Plum Organics products)

 

Gerber Products Company

Gerber only conducts heavy metal tests in raw materials, not finished products. (4)

 

Mercury:

  • No test for mercury.

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 90 ppb (ingredient: rice flour)

 

Lead:

  • Up to 48 ppb (ingredient: sweet potatoes)

 

Cadmium:

  • Over 5 ppb in carrots (in 75% of raw ingredients)
  • Up to 87 ppb (ingredient: carrot batches)
  • No test for cadmium (other raw materials)

 

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

Hain told the Subcommittee Report that it doesn’t test for heavy metals in finished products. Instead, “theoretical calculations” are based on the ingredients’ results. (4)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • Up to 309 ppb (for ingredients)
  • Up to 129 ppb (for finished products)

 

Mercury:

  • No test for mercury.

 

Lead:

  • Up to 352 ppb (for raw materials)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 260 ppb (for ingredients)

 

Walmart Inc. (Parent’s Choice)

Walmart reportedly refused to provide the Subcommittee with results or internal standards. The following results are from HBBF: (3)(4)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

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

 

Mercury:

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

 

Lead:

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

 

Cadmium:

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

 

Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods)

According to the Subcommittee, the company never responded. These test results for Organic Quinoa Puffs Baby Cereal Snack (Apple Kale) are from the HBBF report: (3)(4)

 

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 its ingredients and raw materials passed internal standards. But it has internal maximum limits that are much higher than government regulations. (4)

So, many of the products passed the internal inspection but failed the federal standards. (4)

 

Mercury:

  • No test for mercury.

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

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

 

Lead:

  • Up to 886.9 ppb (in raw materials)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 344.55 ppb (in raw materials)

 

Second Congressional Report

The House Subcommittee released a follow-up report in September 2021. (6)

The new report showed that the companies continue to produce baby foods with dangerously high levels of inorganic arsenic and other heavy metals, based on independent tests by the state of Alaska. (4)(6)

The Subcommittee also called out these baby food companies for failure to notify the public of their heavy metal content or recall any of their tainted products. (6)

 

Lawsuit Against HappyTOT For Heavy Metal Content

The Ecological Alliance LLC in Los Angeles filed a class suit against Nurture Inc., the parent company of Happy Family Organics, for making products allegedly having dangerous levels of lead in June 2021: (11)

  • HappyTOT apple and spinach fruit snack bar 
  • HappyTOT cheese and spinach ravioli product 

 

The lawsuit alleges that the apple and spinach fruit snack bar has “higher-than-acceptable” lead content, while the cheese and spinach ravioli contains over 12 times the daily limit of lead exposure for a child. (11)

As the basis for the allegations on the excessive lead levels, the lawsuit cites “independent laboratory tests conducted recently on an array of food products.” (11)

The lawsuit also includes Target and Whole Foods. (11)

Whole Foods wouldn’t sell an apple grown with pesticides, yet they keep selling baby food containing appalling amounts of lead to unsuspecting parents,” Attorney Vineet Dubey declared in a statement. (11)

 

HBBF Comprehensive Food Safety Test

The HBBF commissioned independent tests of 168 baby foods from 61 different brands. (3)

The results showed that as much as 95% may have high levels of toxic heavy metals: (3)

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

 

What’s alarming is that 26% of the baby foods HBBF tested contain all four toxic chemicals in one container. (3)

HBBF expressed alarm over these findings, explaining that exposure to heavy metals can harm your child’s body and brain development. (3)

Pointing out the lack of known safe levels for heavy metal exposure, HBBF urges baby food makers to establish a goal of no measurable amounts of heavy metals for any baby and young children’s food. (3)

 

HappyBABY Organic Food in HBBF Study

These HappyBABY Organic products have alarmingly high toxic metal content based on the HBBF study: (3)

 

Organic Rice Cakes Puffed Rice Snack (Apple)

  • Total arsenic: 455 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 47 ppb
  • Lead: 1.7 ppb
  • Cadmium: 5.4 ppb
  • Mercury: 3.18 ppb

 

Superfood Puffs Organic Grain Snack (Sweet Potato & Carrot)

  • Total arsenic: 295 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 91 ppb
  • Lead: 3.7 ppb
  • Cadmium: 12.2 ppb
  • Mercury: 1.94 ppb

 

Superfood Puffs – Apple & Broccoli Organic Grain Snack (Crawling Baby)

  • Total arsenic: 266 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 83 ppb
  • Lead: 8.2 ppb
  • Cadmium: 11 ppb
  • Mercury: 2.16 ppb

 

Organic Teethers Blueberry & Purple Carrot (Sitting Baby)

  • Total arsenic: 67 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: 6 ppb
  • Cadmium: 8.2 ppb
  • Mercury: 2.26 ppb

 

Oats & Quinoa Baby Cereal Organic Whole Grains with Iron (Sitting Baby)

  • Total arsenic: 10.2 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: 0.9 ppb
  • Cadmium: 12.4 ppb
  • Mercury: 0.14 ppb

 

Oatmeal Baby Cereal, Clearly Crafted – Organic Whole Grains (Sitting Baby)

  • Total arsenic: 6.3 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: <0.5 ppb
  • Cadmium: 10 ppb
  • Mercury: 0.14 ppb

 

Sweet Potatoes (Stage 1)

  • Total arsenic: 27.5 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: 29 ppb
  • Lead: 2 ppb
  • Cadmium: 1.6 ppb
  • Mercury: <0.141 ppb

 

Apples, Sweet Potatoes & Granola Clearly Crafted Organic Baby Food (Stage 2)

  • Total arsenic: 3.6 ppb
  • Inorganic arsenic: (not measurable)
  • Lead: 5.2 ppb
  • Cadmium: 1.5 ppb
  • Mercury: <0.142 ppb

 

The following HappyBABY Organic Food products also have measurable toxic heavy metal content but are within government regulations: (3)

  • Organic Infant Formula with Iron (0-12 months)
  • Organics Sweet Potatoes (Stage 1)
  • Organic Pears (Stage 1)
  • Clearly Crafted Prunes Organic Baby Food (Stage 1)
  • Simple Combos Apples, Spinach & Kale (Stage 2)

 

Consumer Reports Food Safety Test

Consumer Reports tested 50 baby foods for heavy metals in 2018: (5)

  • Nearly 68% of baby foods may have high levels of at least one toxic metal.
  • At least 15 baby foods can have potential health risks if eaten daily
  • Products with sweet potatoes or rice may contain higher toxic metal levels
  • Organic foods may have the same amount of heavy metals as conventional baby foods

 

Baby Foods With Limited Daily Intake

Based on their tests, these products are categorized as “more concern.” Parents are advised to follow these daily serving limits: (5)

 

Happy Baby Organics 

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

 

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)

 

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)

 

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)

 

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)

 

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

Because they have low levels of heavy metals, based on the same report, these products are categorized as “less concern” (no daily limits): (5)(6)

 

Happy Baby Organics 

  • Purple Carrots, Bananas, Avocados & Quinoa

 

Ella’s Kitchen 

  • Apples + Strawberries Nibbly Fingers

 

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

 

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

 

Healthier Baby Food Products

These baby foods may be a healthier alternative for your baby:

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

 

Preparing Healthier Alternatives At Home

You can opt to make your baby’s food at home using these ingredients: (6) 

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

 

In making baby food, you can also do these: (1)(6)

  • Avoid using brown rice because it can have a higher inorganic arsenic content than white rice.
  • These can be healthier alternatives to brown rice: sushi rice from the US or white basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan.
  • One way that may reduce levels of arsenic is to cook rice with larger amounts of water (6 to 10 portions water to 1 portion rice). Just drain the water afterward.
  • Limit intake of infant rice cereal
  • Limit intake of packaged snacks and teething biscuits
  • Give your baby carrots and sweet potatoes in moderation because these can have high levels of lead or cadmium but are still essential sources of vitamin A and other nutrients. 
  • Avoid high-mercury fish: orange roughy, bigeye tuna, king mackerel, shark, and swordfish.
  • Avoid processed fruit juices.
  • Avoid chocolates

 

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

(7) https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/01/fda-acts-quickly-with-baby-food-warning/

(8) https://www.happyfamilyorganics.com/bars-quality-and-safety/

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

(10) https://www.epa.gov/mercury/what-epa-doing-reduce-mercury-pollution-and-exposures-mercury

(11) https://www.fox5ny.com/news/high-lead-levels-found-in-2-happy-totbaby-food-products-lawsuit-alleges

 

 

 

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