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FDA Failed to Act to Toxins in Baby Food

Victoria Turrentine



ABC News 7 reported, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew for the past four years, certain name-brand baby foods that parents love and trust displayed high levels of toxins and yet failed to act.  

“It felt uncomfortable to know that brands that we trust that are in stores aren’t so trustworthy after all,” said Carlene Thomas, a new mom.

When parents decide to have a child they plan everything, from what the child’s name would be to when they go to college, and in-between those decisions are deciding what the child would eat. 


Congress submitted a report detailing what they called dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, and cadmium were found in baby foods. These well-known brands include Gerber and Beech-Nut.

Soon after the report, the FDA responded by stating they take exposure to toxic elements in the food supply extremely seriously, especially when it comes to protecting the health and safety of the youngest most vulnerable in the population. 

The issue of toxins present in baby food was presented to the FDA back in 2017 when Dr. Sean Callan, a toxicologist, and world scientist, was the first to complete a comprehensive test on hundreds of baby food brands back in 2016.


“I didn’t expect to see as many heavy medals as we observed,” said Dr. Callan. 

Dr. Callan partnered with Jackie Bowen, leader of the nonprofit Clean Label Project. They both released their findings, e-mailing the FDA.

Within 24 hours of that release, on October 27, 2017, the FDA reached out to them saying they would like to speak to them about the issue. Bowen and Callan were hopeful the FDA will take action to reduce contamination, but their actions stopped after the phone call.


With tables of evidence including FDA finding the 50 baby food products had levels of arsenic higher than the FDA ever detected in previous studies, Bowen said the agency did not respond. It wasn’t until April 2021, four years later, the congress issued an investigation, that the FDA said it will set those maximum tolerances and it will take three or more years to establish the limits for every heavy metal.

WJLA also reported, the FDA’s work to resolve this issue started before 2017, however, they declined to take an interview to speak on this matter.

Congressional investigators found that the FDA’s workgroup has not resulted in new or stronger regulations to protect babies and said the FDA has failed to confront the risks of toxic heavy metals in baby food.


“In 2017, we were sort of a lone voice, and we’re not alone anymore,” said Dr. Callan.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, a renowned pediatrician and Director of the Center for Public Health and Common Good, at Boston College, has dedicated his life to protecting the health of children and spoke on the matter.

“It is a failure of the government to do its job,” said Dr. Landrigan to Spotlight on America.


The FDA states it will continue to actively work on reducing exposure to toxic elements in baby food by using a risk-based approach to prioritize and target the agency’s efforts, but in light of this matter, the FDA now has to play catch-up to find regulations to stop toxins from entering baby foods.

“If it took five different consumer advocacy groups, an investigative reporter, and a congressional investigation, I’m okay with it. I just look at it as it would have been a lot better if we could have achieved this five years ago,” said Bowen.

The FDA is in charge of protecting our health, failed to hold up its end. 


Victoria Turrentine was born and raised in Prince George's County. Graduating from Washington Adventist University with a B.A. in Print Journalism, she followed her passion and became a writer for The DMV Daily. She continues her love for writing through screenwriting and storytelling.

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