Congressional Democrats are pressuring the FDA to take action on high levels of heavy metals in baby food. A February report found potentially dangerous levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium in many products, but manufacturers say it is harmless, CNBC reported.

Four Democrats — Amy Klobuchar and Tammy Duckworth in the Senate along with Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tony Cardenas in the House — say they’ve drafted legislation to establish regulations. That bill, however, still needs technical review and would take much longer than the immediate action they’ve requested from the FDA.

“Through our legislation and FDA regulatory action, we will ensure that the baby foods that reach the market are safe and that our children are safe,” Krishnamoorthi told CNBC. “I’m proud to partner with my colleagues along with the FDA, stakeholders and health experts across the country in developing comprehensive reforms.”

Four companies - Nurture, Hain Celestial Group, Beech-Nut Nutrition and Gerber - were implicated in the initial report. The FDA has said it takes Congress’ findings “extremely seriously” and is already reviewing the results.

“Baby food companies were not looking out for parents and young kids the way that we all expected — instead, they were knowingly selling us tainted products,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Jarred_Gerber_Baby_Food The 2020 Gerber Baby makes history as the first adopted "spokesbaby." Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Manufacturers objected to the characterization, saying when the report was released that their products are safe and FDA regulation is unnecessary. Beech-Nut Nutrition told the New York Times it has “rigorous testing protocols and strict standards in place.” 

For some consumers, that’s not good enough. The revelation has already prompted a series of lawsuits from parents, most recently in Las Vegas. Other legal suits have been filed in California, New York, Illinois, Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Defendants knew that the presence of toxic heavy metals in their baby food products was a material fact to consumers, yet omitted and concealed that fact from consumers,” the lawsuit says.

“While Gerber as a matter of policy does not comment on pending or threatened litigation, we fully stand behind the safety of all of our products,” said one defendant. “The standards we have in place for the safety and quality of our baby foods are industry-leading, and among the strictest in not just the U.S., but the world.”