WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) announced bicameral legislation to strictly limit the levels of harmful heavy metals in baby food. The Baby Food Safety Act — written in response to a House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy report showing that some baby foods are tainted with dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium — will hold manufacturers accountable for eliminating harmful toxins in infant and toddler food. Consumption of toxic heavy metals, even in extremely small quantities, can have lifelong impacts on a baby’s health and neurological development.
“It’s unacceptable that despite parents’ best efforts to keep their children safe, some leading baby food manufacturers have put products on the market that expose children to dangerous toxins. This legislation will protect children and ensure they get a healthy start by holding manufacturers accountable for removing toxins out of infant and toddler foods. I’ll keep fighting to give parents the peace of mind they deserve,” said Klobuchar.
“My investigation revealed that 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,” said Krishnamoorthi. “I’m proud to partner with my colleagues along with the FDA, stakeholders, and health experts across the country in developing comprehensive reforms. 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.”
“Parents deserve to have peace of mind that the baby and toddler food they purchase is safe and nutritious,” said Duckworth. “Reports that many types of commonly sold baby and toddler food products may contain levels of harmful metals that pose potential risk to babies, such as arsenic and lead, are deeply concerning. I look forward to hearing from the FDA on ways we can work to solve this problem.”
“Like parents all across America, I was horrified to learn that trusted baby food brands knowingly sell products containing high levels of toxic lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium,” said Cárdenas. “I urge the FDA to use its existing authorities to take immediate regulatory action. Parents should not have to worry about whether the baby food they purchase contains dangerous toxic metals like lead and arsenic. I look forward to working with the FDA, stakeholders, and concerned moms and dads on a comprehensive solution to this problem impacting millions of American families.”
The bill, which operates within the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), sets maximum allowable levels for inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in infant and toddler foods. To ensure manufacturers meet concrete timelines for compliance, it provides the FDA with mechanisms for enforcement, including recall authority, and requires testing of finished products and public reporting of results. The legislation also provides funding for research grants and a public awareness campaign focused on the dangers of toxins in baby food.
The legislation is now with the FDA for technical review.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect consumers, especially children.
In December 2019, Klobuchar sent a letter to the CPSC expressing her serious concerns about the significant increase in injuries to children who have ingested small rare-earth magnets and requesting that the agency investigate this matter and take steps to ensure that children are kept safe from these dangerous products.
Also in December, Klobuchar led a letter to the CPSC urging the agency to open an investigation into contaminated toys following reports that a child from Minnesota was found to have toxic blood levels of lead after playing with an off-brand spin toy that was purchased online. In January 2019, Klobuchar led a letter to the CPSC expressing concern that unsafe products may have entered the U.S. during the government shutdown and requesting information regarding what steps the CPSC would take to protect consumers. In 2016, Klobuchar led the push to implement stronger warnings against the dangers of ingesting laundry detergents like Tide Pods. After efforts by Klobuchar, including support of the Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act, manufacturers, the CPSC, and consumer advocates worked together to create the new voluntary safety standard to reduce the risk of accidental exposure.
Also in 2016, after urging from Klobuchar following reports of IKEA Malm dressers falling and killing children, the CPSC and IKEA announced a recall of all Malm dressers and a stop to their sale until safety precautions had been put in place. Klobuchar also introduced legislation to protect children from tipping furniture. Additionally, Klobuchar has advocated for consumer safety through supporting the installation of smartphone ‘kill switches.’ In 2008, Klobuchar was also a cosponsor of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which gave CPSC the additional authority, resources, and staff to enforce consumer protection laws, which included a Klobuchar provision to ban the use of lead in children’s products.
Klobuchar has worked to ensure children are protected from unsafe swimming pools. Klobuchar was a cosponsor of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act to require public pools and spas to incorporate anti-entrapment drain covers and establish a voluntary grant program for states to promote pool and spa safety--which was signed into law in 2007. She also won passage of two amendments that improved the bill, including one that made the new safety standards retroactive to existing pools that were intended for public use and one that required public pools with single drains to install the latest drain safety technology.
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