WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced legislation to limit the levels of harmful heavy metals allowed in commercial food for infants and toddlers. Heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury or other contaminants, if regularly consumed by babies through their food, can impact a child’s lifelong health and development.

The Baby Food Safety Act of 2024 would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce scientifically-established limits on heavy metals in commercial infant and toddler food. The bill would also increase standards for food manufacturer sampling and testing for contaminants in imported and domestic processed food, and bring greater transparency to the rate of food facility inspections by FDA in the U.S. and abroad.

The House companion bill is led by Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA). 

“Parents want what’s best for their children, and they deserve peace of mind knowing the food they purchase for their babies and toddlers is safe,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will boost food safety standards and require more complete testing by manufacturers to prevent heavy metals from poisoning our kids.”

“Even three years after the release of my groundbreaking report that found dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals in leading baby foods, those same neurotoxins are still present at levels that risk the health and well-being of our children,” Krishnamoorthi said. “My legislation will empower the FDA to set limits for the levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, and inorganic arsenic in baby food with meaningful deadlines, while mandating sampling, testing, and reporting requirements for baby food manufacturers. I urge our colleagues from both parties to pass this bicameral legislation to address the dangers of heavy metals in baby food and keep our kids safe.”

“All parents deserve to have confidence that the baby and toddler food they feed their children is safe and nutritious, but reports that many commonly sold products could contain harmful substances like lead that pose risks to our babies are deeply troubling,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to help introduce legislation alongside Senator Klobuchar to address this issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the FDA to make sure that what we feed our children will help them grow up safe and healthy.”

“As a father, I understand the immense responsibility we have to protect our children,” said Cárdenas. “That's why I'm proud to join this bicameral common-sense effort that will lead to more thorough oversight and will demand accountability from baby food manufacturers. Every American parent deserves the peace of mind of knowing that the baby food they provide is safe and free from harmful substances that could impact their child's health in the long term.”

The Baby Food Safety Act of 2024 would: 
1. Raise standards for baby foods to protect infants and toddlers from toxic heavy metals (i.e., lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury) and other potential contaminants and mandates that baby food have no more than the maximum allowable limits for toxic heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, as determined by FDA.

2. Set standards for sampling and testing of commercial food products for contaminants, including toxic heavy metals in baby food.

3. Strengthen the FDA’s ability to enforce higher safety standards for commercial baby food as well as imported food products.

In February, Klobuchar called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate potential criminal conduct within the supply chains of WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis brand cinnamon applesauce food pouches. These apple cinnamon puree pouches were recalled last year after hundreds of children who had consumed these products showed extremely high blood levels of lead during routine check-ups.

In December 2023, Klobuchar, along with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use the authority of the agency’s new Human Foods Program to swiftly address the high levels of toxic heavy metals in these cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches.

In January 2023, Klobuchar, Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi, and Cárdenas called on the FDA to reduce high levels of toxic heavy metals—including lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium—in baby food and help ensure that the baby food provided to our nation's infants and young children is safe.

In June 2022, Klobuchar, Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi, and Cárdenas and 19 of their colleagues called on the FDA to provide better oversight and regulation of baby food. 

In February 2022, Klobuchar and Krishnamoorthi led a group of lawmakers in responding to a Consumer Reports investigation which revealed high levels of the neurotoxin inorganic arsenic in 3 popular rice cereal baby foods.

In 2021, Klobuchar and Duckworth introduced the Baby Food Safety Act to strictly limit the levels of harmful heavy metals in baby food. This legislation — 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 — was aimed at holding manufacturers accountable for reducing harmful heavy metals in infant and toddler food.

In 2009, Klobuchar led the bipartisan Food Safety Rapid Response Act to strengthen federal, state, and local officials’ ability to detect and investigate food safety outbreaks, which was signed into law as part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2012. Her legislation also established food safety centers of excellence, including the Minnesota Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence.

In 2011, Klobuchar called on the FDA to issue a federal limit on inorganic arsenic found in fruit juices popular with kids, leading to the agency releasing final guidance in 2023 on action level for this heavy metal in apple juice.