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Baby Foods May Contain Lead, Lawsuit Alleges

A San Francisco lawsuit claims that popular baby food products may contain trace amounts of lead. According to the claim, Gerber Products Co., Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation, Del Monte Foods, and other manufacturers may produce baby foods that contain lead but don't carry a warning label. The lawsuit was filed by an environmental group and went to trial on Monday, CTV News reports.

In short, the trial will determine if the foods contain enough lead to warrant a warning label. Lawyers representing the baby food companies said that the FDA tested the products in question and concluded that they contained amounts of lead that were "below the FDA's current tolerable intake levels…" In fact, the companies claim that lead occurs naturally in baby products that contain carrots, peaches, pears, or sweet potatoes. However, the lawsuit claims that grape juice and fruit cocktail products may contain lead as well.

In the past, lead poisoning was a serious concern in the United States. Lead poisoning in children declined significantly since it was banned from paint and gasoline formulas, but health professionals suspect that some children still suffer from overexposure. Over time, exposure to too much lead can lead to brain damage and serious illness. However, small doses of lead may not be harmful.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 500,000 children in the United States may suffer from lead poisoning. Common sources of lead exposure include old paint, impure drinking water, contaminated soil, and leaded gasoline. Although the FDA confirmed trace amounts of lead in the baby products, the companies claim that the benefit of eating nutritious foods like carrots and sweet potatoes far outweighs the risks of consuming small amounts of naturally occurring lead.

One attorney in the case said, "Despite the trace amounts of lead in the products at issue, the federal government has determined that Americans need to eat more -- not less -- of these nutritious foods. FDA recently reiterated its conclusion that the trace levels of lead in the products at issue in this case do not pose unacceptable health risks." However, the plaintiffs firmly believe that any level of lead can result in serious health concerns.

"Even when studying the low-level of exposure that is typical in the dietary context," court documents said, "scientists have not been able to identify a level of exposure that is without any health risks." The plaintiffs hope the food companies will take measures to eliminate lead from the products, since placing a warning label on the food could destroy the product's market. At The Senators Firm, we are dedicated to helping people who have suffered because of toxic exposure. If you or your child is a victim of lead poisoning, contact us today.

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