On March 2, 2021, Cohen Milstein filed a putative nationwide false advertising, deceptive marketing, and unjust enrichment class action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of purchasers of Hain Celestial Group, Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, Gerber Products Company, and Nature, Inc. baby food products.

Plaintiffs allege that the baby food manufacturers falsely warrant, advertise, and sell their baby food products as being suitable and safe for consumption by babies, when in fact their products contain heavy metals, such as inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, that are scientifically known to be harmful to babies. As such, Defendants’ deceptive marketing practices are intended to mislead consumers, who might have not purchased their baby food products had they know that the products were unsafe or unsuitable for babies.

On June 14, 2021, the Court ordered that Albano v. Hain be consolidated into In re Hain Celestial Heavy Metals Baby Food Litigation, Case No. 21-cv-0678 (JS) (AYS). On June 17, 2021, Cohen Milstein filed an amended complaint on behalf of Plaintiffs.

On July 9, 2021, Law360 named In re Hain Celestial Heavy Metals Baby Food Litigation, Case No. 21-cv-0678 (JS) (AYS) one of Law360's "Product Liability Cases To Watch: Midyear Review."

Case Background

On February 4, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a detailed report titled, “Baby Foods are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury.” The report revealed that some of the largest baby food manufacturers in an industry that generates over $50 billion annually in sales knowingly distributed and sold baby food containing harmful heavy metals such as inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. The Defendants, Hain, Beech-Nut, Gerber, and Nurture were identified as four of the companies knowingly selling baby foods containing harmful heavy metals.

This report is substantiated by numerous scientific studies conducted over the last several decades, confirming that inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury are developmental neurotoxins that are harmful to a baby’s developing brain and nervous system. There are no established safe levels of these substances for baby foods.

Babies and children who consume inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, or mercury are at risk of suffering health problems, a loss of intellectual capacity and behavioral problems such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), among other things. Even the consumption of small amounts over time can increase the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, medical professionals and scientists alike agree that early exposure to heavy metals can have long-term effects that are irreversible.

The Hain, Beech-Nut, Gerber, and Nurture products of concern are, but are not limited to:

  • Hain’s Earth’s Best Whole Grain Rice Cereal, Whole Grain Oatmeal Cereal, and Sweet Potatoes Organic Baby Food;
  • Beech-Nut’s Rice Single Grain Baby Cereal, Classic Sweet Potatoes, Naturals Just Sweet Potatoes, and Classic Mixed Vegetables;
  • Gerber’s Puffs, Lil’Crunchies, and Yogurt Melts; and
  • Nurture’s Happy Family Organic’s HappyBABY Puffs, HappyBABY Rice Cakes, HappyBABY Creamies, HappyBABY Teethers, and HappyBABY Yogis.

 

The case was originally filed as: Albano, et al. v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc., et al., Case No. 2:21-cv-01118, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

The consolidated case name is: In re Hain Celestial Heavy Metals Baby Food Litigation, Case No. 21-cv-0678 (JS) (AYS), United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York