Via America’s Lawyer: Back in February, the House of Representatives released an alarming report about toxic heavy metals found in popular baby foods, which can cause long-term developmental harm. Attorney Madeline Pendley joins Mike Papantonio to discuss how manufacturers now face a bundle of class-action lawsuits.

Click here to learn more about toxic baby food lawsuits and infant neurological injuries.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Back in February, the House of Representatives released an alarming report about toxic heavy metals found in popular baby foods. Now manufacturers are in the hot seat facing a bundle of class actions, attorney Madeline Pendley joins me now to talk about this. You know, I, I, my takeaway on this, one of the first, one of the first things I read was the FDA has an action plan. That’s almost an, that’s an oxymoron.

Madeline Pendley:        Yeah, it’s discouraging. It doesn’t mean anything at all.

Mike Papantonio:             It means nothing’s going to happen. Tell us why these class action lawsuits are about.

Madeline Pendley:        Essentially the biggest baby food manufacturers in the country have been poisoning your children. So these manufacturers have sold baby food that’s contaminated with significantly high levels of very dangerous heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, mercury and children have been exposed to it for years.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s a long-term exposure that’s the issue. I mean, a doctor can say, yeah, if baby eats mashed up pears, that taste awful by the way, eats them, then they’re probably going to be okay for that.

Madeline Pendley:        Right.

Mike Papantonio:             But when they do it day after day after day for years, it is that long-term exposure that causes the problem, right?

Madeline Pendley:        Right. So part of the problem with heavy metals is the exposure kind of builds up or accumulates in the body each time somebody is exposed. So really any exposure can add to a harmful amount of heavy metals in the body.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. In other words, you don’t just rid your body of heavy metals, every 24 hours. It’s bioaccumulative is what they would call it.

Madeline Pendley:        Exactly.

Mike Papantonio:             Some of them are what we call biopersistent.

Madeline Pendley:        Right.

Mike Papantonio:             But we do know this, it’s bioactive. It affects, it affects your systems, your, your brain, other, other systems in the body. And they’ve known about, they, they’ve known about the dangers of heavy metals for decades and decades. Who are the companies that are involved in this?

Madeline Pendley:        It’s a lot of really big household names, actually, you know, like Campbell’s, Beech-Nut, Gerber, Happy Baby by Nurture and Parent’s Choice by Walmart.

Mike Papantonio:             Doesn’t it, doesn’t that sound sick? Happy Baby has now, my memory is Happy Baby had, where it came to, it came to arsenic, it had like 600 times what it should have, 600 parts per billion. Is that right?

Madeline Pendley:        Exactly, yes.

Mike Papantonio:             And that is, that’s off the scale.

Madeline Pendley:        Right.

Mike Papantonio:             And nevertheless, Happy Baby’s selling the product and they’re saying, gee whiz, everything’s going to be okay. Your, your baby’s going to be well taken care of. Some of them even advertise that it’s organic and you don’t have to worry about it, right?

Madeline Pendley:        Right. And the problem with organic is, I mean, whether this is true or not, when people are purchasing organic products, they’re doing it because they want it to be safer to some extent, you know, they want it to be free from harmful chemicals and things like that. So it’s especially frustrating that these companies were allowed to market their product as organic and therefore safer although it had significantly high levels of dangerous heavy metals.

Mike Papantonio:             What are the potential health impacts that we’re talking about here? What would, what do we expect when you take a child that’s in those developmental years and you expose them to heavy metals for years?

Madeline Pendley:        So what we know is, is one, this is not some hypothetical harm that we’re talking about. There are many studies that correlate heavy metal exposure to children with developmental delays. So we see things like cognitive disabilities, behavioral problems, permanent reduction in IQ, and all of these things can lead to the child needing, you know, special education programs and a reduction in their overall quality of life.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, I know the science has been around a long time. We know, for example, the lead paint cases where children would often take the paint off the wall and eat it, and, you know.

Madeline Pendley:        Right. Yeah. There’s no question that this stuff is dangerous to people, especially young children and especially at regular regimented doses like daily baby food exposure.

Mike Papantonio:             So there’s no guesswork here. We’re not just, there’s no, what we call medical causation, scientific causation questions, that science has been out there long time. Is there any movement in the federal system to maybe make the FDA for once, just one time, have the FDA do what they’re supposed to do, or is it still controlled with whoever’s in office? Of course this has been going, this, this has been going on for so long. It’s every administration, it’s not any one administration.

Madeline Pendley:        Right. So this issue has been on the FDA’s radar for at least a decade. You know, from what we can see in publicly accessible information, they’ve known for at least a decade. And so we can see that if they want to, they can establish heavy metal exposure thresholds for other things. They’ve done it for water, you know, you can’t have more than like five parts per billion of lead, 10 of arsenic. But for some reason, the FDA is okay with over 900 parts per billion of arsenic in baby food, which is what we’re seeing. So what, what the FDA needs to do is develop a proactive system for detecting heavy metals in baby food so we can get this stuff off the market.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, I mean, don’t you at least warn the parent?

Madeline Pendley:        You would think, at least.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, isn’t it a failure to warn case here, when you say, look, you need, need to know this.

Madeline Pendley:        Right.

Mike Papantonio:             We’ve tested it for arsenic and there’s arsenic in here and we’ve tested it for. What mother’s gonna say, yeah, that sounds good? Let me feed this to my child.

Madeline Pendley:        Well that’s, that’s why they won’t tell us about it because if anybody actually knew, as far as the companies, I mean, if anybody actually knew how much dangerous material was in this food, nobody would buy it. And so actually these companies were investigated by the US House of Representatives investigation committee. And that report was released earlier this year. So this is all publicly accessible. And what they found is that all of these companies involved that we talked about earlier, either tested their product, saw the dangerous levels and sold it anyway or never tested their product at all. So either knowingly exposed children to a dangerous toxin or didn’t care enough to figure out whether or not they were.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, at this point, full disclosure, our law firm is involved in these class actions that are being talked about. But I think this, this, this is bigger than that. It’s not a class action. You have children, the mother can say, there’s no other exposure my child had, they had developmental problems. Yeah, they took a Happy Baby and ate it three times a day for three, four years. You know, you do the math, you do the science and there are plenty of experts that can say this threshold, this burden of heavy metals, absolutely had a connection to these developmental problems. So I, to me, what I’m amazed about is that there was no national case put together. The MDL, which is the multi-district litigation panel should have granted that, they should have said, yeah, let’s look at this nationally, but they didn’t.

Madeline Pendley:        Right.

Mike Papantonio:             So, you know, we’re going to do what we always do. Go after them anyway.

Madeline Pendley:        Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Thank you for joining me.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.