The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said it will not group together suits targeting baby food manufacturers over the alleged presence of toxic metals in their products, saying the companies’ marketing and manufacturing practices vary too much for centralization.
Even though the allegations that the companies, including Hain Celestial Group and Gerber Products Co., knowingly sold baby foods containing heavy metals are similar, the companies have different manufacturing processes and quality control procedures, the panel said.
That means the success or failure of the claims will likely depend on facts specific to an individual company, such as its internal test results or the amount of heavy metals in its food.
Major baby food manufacturers have been hit with claims in recent months that they allowed high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury into their products and misled consumers about how healthy their baby food is. The bid to consolidate the cases into an MDL stemmed from those suits.
The lawsuits followed a February report from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform that found high levels of heavy metals in products made by Hain and other companies. Hain has said the report is based on outdated information that does not reflect the company’s current practices.
Some of the parents argued for centralizing the suits by the defendant, but the panel said that wasn’t necessary at this point.
Most of the suits brought against a specific company have already been filed in or transferred to the districts where the companies are headquartered.