Beech-Nut To Exit Infant Rice Cereal Market After Recall Over High Arsenic Levels
Following a report by Alaska health officials of high levels of arsenic in Beech-Nut infant rice cereal, leading to a recall, the baby food manufacturer has announced it will exit the market and no longer make any Single Grain Rice Cereal products.
On June 8, the FDA announced a recall for one lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal, after a routine sampling program by the state of Alaska found levels of inorganic arsenic which exceeded the agency’s guidance levels.
In February, a report by the U.S. House Oversight Committee ignited a firestorm of concerns over the various heavy metals found in baby foods, including arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Exposure to these heavy metals by infants has been linked to a risk of autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders, placing this vulnerable population of Americans at a serious risk, according to the report.
Learn More About Baby Food lawsuits
Toxic baby food sold by Gerber, Beech-Nut and other manufacturers contain dangerous levels of heavy metals, which may be the cause of autism and severe ADHD for children.
The Congressional report found some baby foods contained more than 91 times the maximum level of arsenic allowed in bottled water; 177 times the allowable levels of lead, 69 times the limits on cadmium, and five times the levels of allowable mercury. Beech-Nut was one of the companies focused on by the report.
Since then, there has been increased scrutiny on the presence of heavy metals in baby food products.
In this latest recall, while the finished product tested high for arsenic, the rice flour used in its creation did not, raising questions about why the levels are so high. In addition, Beech-Nut and other companies are facing an increasing number of class action lawsuits over the presence of the heavy metals in baby food products.
In response to these concerns and mounting litigation, Beech-Nut has announced it will no longer make Single Grain Rice Cereal products. The company indicates the decision came as a result of concerns over whether it could consistently obtain rice flour that falls below the FDA guidance levels for inorganic arsenic.
The recall affects Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice with UPC Code # 52200034705, product codes 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX, and an expiration date of 01MAY2022. The expiration date and product numbers are located on the bottom of the canister.
The canisters were distributed nationally both through retail and online.
The FDA indicates consumers who have the affected cereal should discard the products or can go to www.beechnut.com/ricecereal or call 1-866-272-9417 for information on obtaining an exchange or refund.
Toxic Metal Baby Food Lawsuits
Since the Congressional subcommittee report was released in February, manufacturers have faced a growing number of baby food lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize the baby food cases earlier this year. However, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) rejected that request this week.
Such consolidation is common in complex product liability litigation, where a large number of product liability lawsuits have been filed over similar injuries caused by the same products. Centralizing the cases before one judge is intended to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.
However, given the JPML’s recent decision, the cases are moving forward as individual lawsuits.
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