The state of California is suing two companies, Nutraceutical Corp. and Graceleigh Inc., whose toddler formulas contain dangerous levels of lead that exceed both state and federal standards.
State testing revealed that the two products -- Peaceful Planet Toddler Supreme and Sammy’s Milk Free-Range Goat Milk Toddler Formula – contained between 13 and 15 times the maximum allowable dose level under California law.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told reporters on Thursday that after the state Department of Justice issued cease-and-desist orders, the companies voluntarily agreed to stop selling the contaminated baby formulas in California.
"Parents across America, and certainly in California, on a daily basis rely on the representations made by companies," said Becerra during the press conference, "to make sure that what our children are eating is not only good for them, but is safe as well."
In a statement accompanying the announcement, the department called the findings a “parent’s worst nightmare" and said the lawsuit is intended to put all manufacturers on notice.
"The California Department of Justice will hold you accountable for gambling with our children’s health," the agency warned.
The lawsuit, which seeks monetary penalties, alleges that the companies violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Proposition 65, which requires companies to adequately warn consumers that their products expose them to toxic chemicals.
"Parents across America, and certainly in California, on a daily basis rely on the representations made by companies," said Becerra during today's presser, "to make sure that what our children are eating is not only good for them, but is safe as well."
And when it comes to lead consumption, there really isn't a tolerable level for children, according to Dr. Timur Durrani, a toxicologist at UCSF.
"One message I would put to you is that there really is no safe level of lead, particularly for children," he told reporters at the announcement.
According to the Mayo Clinic, even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems in children, affecting their mental and physical development. Chronic lead exposure can seriously impair brain development and lead to learning and behavioral problems.
The presence of lead in baby formula is especially concerning, said Becerra, since toddlers consume it daily.
Lead, a naturally occurring chemical, is found in the environment in small amounts. The majority of human exposure to it is through activities such as ceramics, or products such as cosmetics, paint and toys, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Becerra has urged parents of toddlers who consumed the contaminated formulas to get them tested for lead exposure.