Attorney General Bonta Joins Multistate Comment Letter Urging FDA to Expand Efforts to Keep Lead Out of Baby Food

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a multistate comment letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) welcoming the release of its new proposed guidance aimed at reducing lead in processed food products for babies and young children (“Lead Guidance”). In the comments, the multistate coalition supports the FDA’s goal of reducing levels of lead in these products, but urges the FDA to expand and strengthen the guidance to protect more children from the serious, long-term health risks of lead exposure from store-bought foods marketed for babies and toddlers.

 “As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children during their earliest years and enable them to grow up safe and healthy. The FDA’s proposed lead guidance moves in the right direction to help young children and their parents, who shouldn’t have to worry that the food they feed their kids will harm their health and impede their development,” said Attorney General Bonta. “While this proposal is an important step, we urge the FDA to go even further, and expand the guidance to protect more children from exposure to lead. Expanding the guidance to protect children up to 36 months of age, and covering more of the common foods our children eat, would have a more substantial positive impact on the well-being of our children.”

The negative health impacts of heavy metal exposure are well-documented. Lead exposure is particularly dangerous for children, whose developing brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to its damaging effects. Impacts of lead exposure in children include behavioral issues, reduced cognitive abilities, slowed body growth, hearing problems, and kidney damage. There is widespread scientific consensus that there is no safe level of lead exposure.

The Lead Guidance aims to reduce lead concentrations in three categories of processed foods intended for babies and young children. But FDA has limited these action levels to foods specifically for babies and young children less than two years old. In the comment letter, the coalition urges the FDA to strengthen and expand the guidance to be even more protective of children’s health.

Specifically, the multistate comments request that FDA take steps to strengthen the draft guidance including:

  • Expanding the Lead Guidance to include foods intended for children 36 months and younger, rather than including only foods intended for children 24 months and younger.
  • Extending the Lead Guidance to grain-based snacks, which are commonly consumed by babies and toddlers, and have been demonstrated to have elevated lead concentrations.
  • Expressly stating that manufacturers of products covered by the guidance should test finished products for lead before they go to market.

In filing the comment letter, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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