The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responded to the House report on levels of heavy metals in baby food with the promise of additional action. The FDA statement notes, “First, today we issued a letter to industry reminding manufacturers of these types of foods of their existing responsibilities related to these efforts. Secondly, the agency is announcing that we’ll soon be putting into action a plan aimed at reducing toxic elements in foods for babies and young children to levels as low as is reasonably achievable.” The industry letter asserts that the agency will take action to remove foods from the market “when the levels of toxic elements or other chemicals in foods do pose a health risk,” citing as an example a consent decree the agency obtained in January 2021 to stop Valley Processing Inc. from selling adulterated juice.

The agency’s plan includes finalizing an action level on inorganic arsenic on infant rice and developing additional action levels. FDA also cited four areas to address: (i) “issuing guidance to identify action levels for contaminants in key foods, with plans to revisit those levels on a regular basis and lower them if appropriate, as well as providing guidance to industry on how to meet their obligations under current regulations”; (ii) increasing inspections and taking compliance and enforcement actions; (iii) boosting sampling for infant and toddler foods and sharing the results; and (iv) “working with government, academia and industry to support research and development of additional safety information on toxic elements in foods for babies and young children and additional steps that industry can take to further reduce levels.” The agency also indicated it will hold a public workshop on “the science surrounding levels of exposure that result in developmental impacts, and the foods that may contribute to those exposures.”

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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.

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