New York, NY — On March 27, a coalition of 21 attorneys general (AGs) led by New York Attorney General Letitia James filed comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) draft guidance on lead levels in food for babies and young children. In their comments, the AGs suggest a number of revisions to the guidance which would achieve a standard that is more protective.
As outlined in FDA’s draft guidance, lead exposure in infants and young children has been shown to cause developmental delays in learning and behavior, and is associated with a cascade of other health risks. The presence of lead in food for infants and young children has widespread effects and contributes to lead poisoning, which as the AGs note in their comments is a “core environmental justice issue,” where children in communities that are overburdened by pollution, often communities of color, are at greater risk of lead poisoning. Some of the coalition’s suggestions would include foods for children 3 and younger, rather than only 2 and younger; include grain-based snacks; and ensure FDA action levels are developed based on the higher consumption percentile of 97.5 instead of 90, protecting more of the population by reducing the amount of people exposed to lead in the covered foods. While the AGs note that it is important to maintain the availability and affordability of baby and toddler food, they point out there is no evidence of economic impacts if the FDA were to set more protective action levels.
“The AGs have made science-based suggestions to the FDA to strengthen protections for vulnerable young children,” said Bethany Davis Noll, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “Parents should feel confident that the first foods they feed their children are safe and the suggestions in these comments will help the FDA to get there more quickly.”
Background — On June 28, 2022, a coalition of 22 AGs sent a letter to FDA and USDA on toxic metals in baby food stressing the need for immediate action addressing the issue.
The attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin joined AG James in filing the comments.
About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.