Baby Food Lawsuit Dismissed as “Simply Speculative”
On April 25, a New Jersey federal judge dismissed a putative class action lawsuit against baby food producer Sprout Foods, Inc. finding that the alleged harm was “simply speculative.” The lawsuit alleged that Sprout’s baby food products contained dangerous levels of heavy metals and were misleadingly advertised as “clean,” “healthy,” “wholesome,” and “organic.” This lawsuit came in the wake of last year’s Congressional report on heavy metals in baby food. Summaries of the report and subsequent events are available here and here.
U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler held that the proposed class action sufficiently alleged that there were heavy metals in the Sprout baby food products and that elevated levels of heavy metals can be unsafe and dangerous. However, the proposed class did not connect those two allegations by establishing that the levels of heavy metals in the Sprout baby food products were unsafe. In support of the dismissal, Judge Chesler quoted the FDA’s March 2021 letter to industry, which stated that “at the levels we have found through our testing….children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements in foods.” Judge Chesler wrote “[a]t the very least, this statement weakens the inference that the amount of heavy metals in the Baby Food Products creates a substantial risk of danger to children.”
The case was dismissed without prejudice, which allows the plaintiffs the ability to refile.