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HappyTOT Recall 2021: What You Need To Know

Updated on 12 October 2021 • 9 minute read
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Overview

Heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium can harm your baby’s brain and body development, even at low concentrations. But did you know that plenty of baby foods may have dangerously high levels of these toxic elements? (1)(2)(3)

What’s alarming is that many of these baby foods are from popular name brands, according to a detailed Congressional Report in February 2021: (3)

  • 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)

 

The companies reportedly knew that their ingredients have toxic elements, but they adjusted their internal standards so their tests “passed.” The tainted products were sold to unsuspecting customers. (3)

Worse, despite public outcry over their heavy metal content, the companies mentioned in the Congressional Report refused to issue any baby food recall on their products. (4)

For baby food safety in the future, lawmakers and parents are putting pressure on the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to create stricter measures for baby food manufacturers. (5)

They’re calling for the FDA to require baby food companies to test finished products for heavy metals, especially those just testing the raw materials. (5)

So, how did the brands like Nurture, Inc. react to the Congressional Reports? Read on to find out more.

 

HappyTOT Recalls

Even though Nurture Inc. and the other brands were revealed to have high levels of heavy metals by the Congressional Report, not one of them issued a recall on the tainted products.

These are the only product recalls that Nurture Inc. has issued on HappyTOTproducts:

 

HappyTOT Super Foods Gluten-Free Oat Bars Recall (2020)

On November 3, 2020, Nurture Inc. issued a voluntary recall on several products, citing consumer complaints of the bars containing mold. (6)

According to the baby food company, these bars were produced with higher water content, making them susceptible to mold growth. (6)

The following lot codes of HappyTOT Super Foods Gluten-Free Oat Bars (Organic Blueberries and Oatmeal; with UPC  8 19573 01507 2) were affected by the recall: (6)

  • 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

 

These are the lot codes for the HappyTOT Super Foods Gluten-Free Oat Bars (Organic Bananas, Strawberries, and Sunflower Butter; UPC 8 19573 01508 9) included in the recall: (6)

  • 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

 

Aside from these HappyTOT products, the recall also included HappyKID Fruit & Oat Bar (Blueberry + Raspberry) with the following lot codes: (6)

  • 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 & HappyTOTBaby Food Pouch Recall (2010)

Responding to consumer complaints about swollen or leaking baby food pouches of different HappyBABY and HappyTOTproducts, the FDA issued a public warning over the serious food safety problem. (7)

The compromised packaging is at risk of bacterial contamination, which could cause serious medical issues, including severe vomiting and nausea if ingested. 

The FDA warned the public from consuming any of the products that are swollen or leaking. Store employees and anyone who handled the contaminated products were advised to wash their hands thoroughly. (7)

Around 10 hours later, Nurture Inc. issued a recall on the following baby food pouches from HappyTOTStage 4, with expiration dates from November 2010 to January 2011: (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

 

These food pouches from HappyBABY Stages 1 and 2 (expiration dates from November 2010 to January 2011) were also 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

 

No other baby food products were affected by this recall. (7)

 

Happy Family Organics In Congressional Report On Baby Food Safety

First Subcommittee Congressional Report

In February 2021, the US Congress Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy released a detailed Congressional Report on toxic products from several baby food manufacturers. (3)

These popular name brands are well-known for their baby foods, but all have dangerously high levels of toxic elements, particularly arsenic. (3)

Of the seven baby food makers mentioned in the Congressional Report, only four provided the Subcommittee with their internal testing policies (for heavy metals) and test results: (3)

  • Gerber
  • Beech-Nut
  • Nurture
  • Hain

 

But even with the quick response, the Subcommittee was alarmed to receive confirmation that these companies’ products truly contained dangerous levels of heavy metals. (3)

The baby food manufacturers have different policies but created internal standards that have maximum limits several times higher than existing government regulations on other food products.

The FDA maximum limit for infant rice cereal is 100 ppb (parts per billion) inorganic arsenic. (8)

But these companies set their internal limits several times higher than the federal regulation: (3)

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

 

The FDA’s maximum limits for bottled water are as follows: (8)

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

 

Instead of complying with these regulations or creating internal standards near these values, the following companies increased theirs to much higher levels: (3)

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

 

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) maximum limit for drinking water (but may also apply to food) is 2 ppb mercury. (9)

 

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

While the other baby food makers only tested their raw materials and ingredients for heavy metal content, Nurture actually tested both ingredients and finished products. (3)

Yet this didn’t clear them in the Congressional Report. (3)

The Subcommittee was alarmed that Nurture knew that their products have high levels of toxic heavy metals, yet they continued to release these for little ones to eat. (3)

According to the report, Nurture admitted that though they test their finished products, the results aren’t used as a basis for product release. So, the company released all products to the market, including those that exceeded the heavy metal maximum limits. (3)

These are the test results that the company submitted: (3)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

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

 

Mercury:

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

 

Lead:

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

 

Cadmium:

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

 

Second Congressional Report

In a new report released in September 2021, the Subcommittee announced that the state of Alaska tested the baby food products from the report independently. The results showed that these companies continued to produce and release products with dangerously high levels of inorganic arsenic. (3)(4)

The Subcommittee Report also pointed out that these baby food companies failed to recall the tainted products or notify the public of their heavy metal content. (4)

 

Lawsuit Against HappyTOT For Heavy Metal Content

Last June 2021, the  Ecological Alliance LLC in Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against Happy Family Organics parent company Nurture Inc. for making two products allegedly containing dangerous levels of lead: (10)

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

 

The lawsuit alleges that cheese and spinach ravioli has over 12 times the daily maximum amount of lead exposure for a child, while the snack bar has “higher-than-acceptable” lead content. (10)

It cited “independent laboratory tests conducted recently on an array of food products” as the basis for the allegations on the excessive lead levels. (10)

Aside from Nurture Inc., Target and Whole Foods were also included in the lawsuit. (10)

Attorney Vineet Dubey declared in a statement: (10)

Whole Foods wouldn’t sell an apple grown with pesticides, yet they keep selling baby food containing appalling amounts of lead to unsuspecting parents.

 

Other Companies In The Congressional Report On Toxic Baby Foods

These baby food manufacturers were also listed on the Congressional reports: (3)(4)

 

Campbell Soup Company (Plum Organics) Results

Plum Organics reportedly refused to submit their internal standards or actual test results, according to the Subcommittee. Instead, the company continues to insist that their finished products “meet criteria.” (3)

The following test results for Plum Organics Organic Baby Food (Just Sweet Potato) are from the Healthy Babies Bright Futures report: (11)

 

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

 

Plum Organicstest results from 2017 to 2019 were finally included in the second Congressional Report. (4)

But these showed that the company released many products with high levels of arsenic and other toxic metals: (4)

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

 

Gerber Products Company

The company only tests its raw materials for heavy metal content, not the finished products. (3)

 

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

 

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

Hain admitted in the Subcommittee Report that it doesn’t test for heavy metal content. Instead, they make “theoretical calculations” based on the ingredients’ results. (3)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

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

 

Mercury:

  • No test for mercury.

 

Lead:

  • Up to 352 ppb (raw materials)

 

Cadmium:

  • Up to 260 ppb (ingredients)

 

Walmart Inc. (Parent’s Choice)

Walmart refused to submit results or internal standards, the Subcommittee reported. These results are from Healthy Babies Bright Futures: (3)

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

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

 

Mercury:

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

 

Lead:

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

 

Cadmium:

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

 

Sprout Foods, Inc. (Sprout Organic Foods)

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

 

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 reportedly declared that all its raw materials passed internal standards. (3)

The company actually used ingredients that failed government regulations, but they set very high internal maximum levels so that these passed. (3)

 

Mercury:

  • No test for mercury.

 

Inorganic Arsenic:

  • More than 300 ppb (in ingredients (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)

 

Reducing Heavy Metals in Baby Food Products

There’s public outcry for the FDA to lower its maximum allowable limits for these toxic heavy metals.

Pointing out that heavy metals, even in low concentrations, can negatively affect the brain and body development of little ones, US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and Consumer Reports call for the approval of the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021. (5)

This law will require baby food manufacturers to test ingredients and finished products. It will also provide the FDA with authority to strictly implement the regulations. Also, the companies will be required to disclose their test results to parents and regulatory agencies. (5)

 

Healthier Baby Food Products

The following baby food products may be healthier alternatives you can pick for your baby:

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

 

Preparing Healthier Alternatives At Home

Are you worried about the abundance of unsafe baby foods from popular name brands? You can also prepare your baby’s food at home with gadgets you already have on hand, such as a blender or food processor.

You don’t have to buy a new gadget but if you’re planning to get a new kitchen appliance to prepare your baby’s food, you can choose Baby Brezza Baby Food Maker Machine.

These are some of the fresh baby foods that you can try making at home: 

  • Whole or puréed fruits and vegetables 
  • Quality meats, poultry, or fish
  • Bone broth (from organic, grass-fed cows, if possible)
  • Raw yogurt
  • Coconut yogurt 
  • Eggs 
  • Quinoa 
  • Oats 
  • Healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee)

 

When preparing healthy baby food for your little one, try to avoid rice or rice flour because these might have high levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead. (5)

Carrots and sweet potatoes can also have high cadmium and lead levels, but they are important sources of vitamin A and other nutrients. (5)

 

REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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