On February 5, 2021, baby food giant Gerber Products Co. (“Gerber”) was served with class claims in federal court in the District of New Jersey alleging that unbeknownst to consumers, and contrary to the representations made by Gerber, its baby food products contain heavy metals, including arsenic and cadmium.
In the complaint, plaintiffs Melanie Shepard, Ciara Vargas, Tisha Valdez and Gwyndaline Quarles reference an investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, which revealed that baby foods manufactured by Gerber are “tainted with significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.” According to the plaintiffs, exposure to heavy metals can cause permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children. It is also purported to endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function. All of this information is in direct contrast with Gerber’s marketing tagline, which touts the brand as “the world’s most trusted name in baby food.”
The suit alleges that the defendant’s practice of testing only its ingredients and not the final product for unsafe levels of potentially toxic ingredients recklessly endangers babies and children and prevents Gerber from ever knowing the full extent of the danger presented by their products. The plaintiffs argue that the final products have higher toxic levels than the individual ingredients alone. Therefore, by testing individual ingredients alone prior to production, Gerber is misrepresenting the level of heavy metal contained in its products.
The plaintiffs seek to represent a class made up of all persons with in the U.S. who purchased and consumed the products from the beginning of any applicable limitations period through the date of class certification. The suit brings causes of action for violations of Connecticut Trade Practices Act, violations of Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, violations of Colorado Consumer Protection Act, violations of Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act and unjust enrichment. Similar class claims have been filed in federal court in the Northern District of New Yok against baby food company Beech-Nut.
The cases are: Shepard et al v. Gerber Products Company, Case No.: 2:21-cv-01977, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and Laurie Thomas et al v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.
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