An environmental group filed a lawsuit against several of the country's largest baby food manufacturers over lead in their products.
The Environmental Law Foundation claims that companies like Gerber, Del Monte Foods, Beech-Nut, and others produce baby food with a low level of lead in them. While the lead may not be toxic, the environmental organization wants these companies to place warning labels on the products, reports CBS News.
The lawsuit was filed in California and would require such labeling in California only.
In their defense, the baby food manufacturers say that the amount of lead in the tested products was below federal standards that require a warning, reports CBS News. The federal Food and Drug Administration also ran tests on the products and reportedly found that the amounts of lead were below federal standards to carry a warning.
But regardless of the threshold of lead, both sides do acknowledge that lead was found in baby food such as those containing carrots, peaches, pears, and sweet potatoes.
In California, the state has developed more strict laws regarding warnings of toxins like lead. Under Proposition 65, companies must place warning labels on foods that contain a toxin at 1/1000th of the levels of what is considered dangerous to humans, even though federal laws do not require such warnings. So even if the baby food meets federal requirements, the manufacturers would still need the warning labels in California.
However, there may be a loophole in the law. The baby food manufacturers say that any lead found in their products is naturally occurring. If the judge finds this to be true, it could exempt the companies from having to warn consumers of the lead under Proposition 65.
Scientists say that lead exposure to a young child can damage the child's developing brain and lower IQ. Yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about half a million U.S. children suffer from lead poisoning.
According to The Associated Press, the trial in this case is set to begin this week.