Attorney General Phil Weiser urges FDA to protect children from toxic metals in baby food
Oct. 21, 2021 (DENVER) – Attorney General Phil Weiser today joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect the health and well-being of babies across the United States by accelerating actions to remove toxic heavy metals found in infant and toddler foods.
The petition responds to rising alarm about the health hazards posed by the heavy metals in these foods, and the failure of baby food brands and their suppliers to aggressively reduce these hazards.
“We must work together to protect our children in Colorado and across the country,” Weiser said. “The FDA can and should act quickly to stop manufacturers that have allowed toxic heavy metals into the food we give our children when they are at their most vulnerable.”
In February 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy published a report that determined that there are high levels of toxic heavy metals — including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury — in baby foods being sold by at least four of the nation’s seven largest manufacturers.
Though the FDA does set limits on toxic metals in other consumable products, the agency has failed to adequately regulate baby food, and has, so far, only established one action level for one type of heavy metal (inorganic arsenic) in one type of baby food product (infant rice cereal).
Today’s petition urges the FDA to issue interim action levels for limiting heavy metal contamination in baby food more swiftly than the timelines announced by the FDA in their “Closer to Zero plan,” announced this past April. Under that plan, the FDA would propose guidance on limiting lead in baby food by the middle of 2022, guidance for limiting inorganic arsenic by April 2024, and guidance for limiting cadmium and mercury sometime after April 2024.
Specifically, today’s petition calls on the FDA to:
- Propose science-based, achievability-focused interim limits for inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in relevant categories of infant and toddler foods;
- Propose a lower limit for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal than that currently set forth in FDA guidance; and
- Instruct all baby food manufacturers to test their finished products for toxic heavy metals.
The coalition of attorneys general urge the FDA to take these actions no later than April 2022, the shortest timeframe for requesting FDA action on a petition under the agency’s regulations.
In sending today’s petition to the FDA, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, Weiser also joins the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.