The attorneys general of 22 states have submitted a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) asserting that the agencies “are not sufficiently prioritizing a public health problem long overdue for robust action: children’s exposure to neurotoxic heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury) through foods specifically designed and marketed for babies and young children.” Led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the group argues that the existing plan to set limits on heavy metals, the Closer to Zero Plan, has “lengthy and vague timelines, which now extend to mid-2024 and beyond,” and is “already behind schedule.”

“As a result of this and other agency delays, U.S. baby food manufacturers continue to largely self-regulate the amount of lead (and other toxic elements) that is contained within their products. Indeed, it remains up to the manufacturers to decide whether even to test their products for these contaminants. With the continuing absence of FDA action levels and product testing guidance, the lack of transparency about these toxic metals in specific foods brings unnecessary worry and confusion for American families with young children, who continue to face the risks of exposure to heavy metals in the foods marketed to them.” The letter argues that issuing immediate guidance to baby food manufacturers would be “the most expedient way for the federal government to reduce toxic heavy metal contamination in the foods eaten by today’s babies and young children.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.