Attorney General James calls on baby food company to stop false and misleading advertising
Testing by AG James’ office found Holle Baby Foods
Advertised as “lead-free” contains lead and other heavy metals
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued a letter demanding that baby food company HolleUSA cease making false or misleading claims about its products. Specifically, Attorney General James is calling on JSG Babyfood LLC and JSG Organics LLC – doing business as HolleUSA – to stop advertising their baby foods as “lead-free” and as containing no trace amounts. detectable heavy metals. Laboratory tests ordered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) revealed that several HolleUSA brand baby food products available to New York residents contained detectable levels of lead, cadmium and arsenic.
“Parents in New York should never have to guess at the safety of products for their children,” said Attorney General James. “My office has discovered that HolleUSA misleads or lies to parents when it claims its baby food is lead-free and free of detectable heavy metals. These false or misleading claims address parents’ concerns about the ongoing metal problem. heavy toxic substances in their children’s food, and they must stop. We will continue to hold accountable any company that misrepresents its products to New York consumers.”
In November 2021, OAG ordered three varieties of Holle-branded baby food pouches (“Carrot Cat” Fruit & Veggie Pure, “Zebra Beet” Fruit Puree & Veggie Juice” and “Veggie Bunny” Veggie Puree) marketed to consumers in New York and the United States via the HolleUSA website (Holleusa.com) and Amazon (Amazon.com) Eighteen pouches tested for heavy metals, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury by a nationally accredited and recognized laboratory. Testing detected one or more of the heavy metals in all 18 sampled pouches. Based on these findings, Attorney General James is directing HolleUSA to promptly remove all false claims and misleading about the absence of heavy metals in its products from the company’s website and the storefronts of online retailers such as Amazon.
Engaging in repeated or persistent fraud or illegality, deceptive marketing practices, and false or misleading advertising violates New York executive law and general business law. Attorney General James’ letter notes that his office reserves the right to pursue any appropriate remedy against HolleUSA’s false or misleading advertising of its products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has no limits set for lead, arsenic, or cadmium for virtually all categories of baby food products (including pureed baby foods), although the FDA’s Closer to Zero plan proposes future changes. The levels at which OAG’s testing of HolleUSA pouches detected lead, arsenic, and cadmium do not exceed the standards in the European Union, where the brand is based.
Attorney General James is a national leader advocating for the federal government to accelerate action to remove heavy metals from infant and toddler foods. Days after a February 2021 congressional report found ‘dangerous levels’ of toxic heavy metals in commercial baby foods, Attorney General James wrote to the FDA’s acting director urging him to act quickly. to set standards for these metals in all baby foods and require baby food manufacturers to test their finished products for toxic metals. After the FDA announced a plan that postponed setting permanent limits on lead and other heavy metals for years without requiring interim or interim measures, Attorney General James led a coalition of 23 state attorneys general in an October 2021 petition urging the FDA to take several specific interim measures. actions to accelerate the protection of young children. The multi-state petition is currently pending before the FDA. Attorney General James is also continuing to investigate four of America’s top baby food brands – Gerber, Beech-Nut, Earth’s Best Organic (Hain) and HappyBABY (Nurture) – for levels of inorganic arsenic in their products at rice cereal base for babies and the marketing thereof. of these products in New York.
“No one likes to be misled. Parents need to know that product information – especially food – provided by companies is accurate, so they can make the best choices for their family,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and Director of the National Getting Ready for Baby Campaign. “False advertising and greenwashing – claiming things are safer or healthier than they are – hurt everyone. Thank you, Attorney General James, for taking action on this. We hope other companies will take notice and make sure to tell the truth to parents.”
“Busy parents are going online to find and buy their baby’s food,” said Tom Neltner, Senior Director, Safer Chemicals for Environmental Defense Fund. “They know lead can be harmful to their babies and will be attracted to ‘lead-free’ claims like those made by HolleUSA. We commend Attorney General Letitia James and her team for testing products to assess lead claims. company and then acting when they found the claims to be false or misleading.
“Consumers have zero tolerance for false and misleading claims on food products, especially if they mislead parents into believing that certain baby food products are free of lead or toxic heavy metals,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy, Consumer Reports. “In our testing of baby foods over the years, Consumer Reports has seen products with very low levels of lead, but no scientific lab could ever declare a product to be completely lead-free given the limits. It is essential that consumers receive accurate information about the foods their families eat, so we applaud Attorney General James’ action to force the removal of misleading claims on food products.
This case is handled by Assistant Attorneys General Brian Lusignan and Max Shterngel, Chief Environmental Scientist Jodi Feld, and Environmental Scientist Joseph E. Haas, II of the Office of Environmental Protection, under the supervision of office manager Lemuel M. Srolovic. The Environmental Protection Bureau is part of the Social Justice Division, which is headed by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux. The case is also being handled by Senior Counsel and Special Counsel Mr. Umair Khan of the Executive Division. The Social Justice Division and the Executive Division are overseen by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.