Sprout Foods Inc. has asked a NJ federal court to put a lid on class claims that it falsely marketed as “healthy” and “organic” baby food products containing allegedly unsafe levels of toxic metals, saying such issues fall in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s wheelhouse.
Amid dozens of similar lawsuits against baby food manufacturers, Sprout Foods urged the court to dismiss or at least stay a proposed class action from two parents based on the so-called primary jurisdiction doctrine, citing the FDA’s expertise with respect to the acceptable levels of heavy metals in such products and labeling requirements.
The flood of litigation followed the Feb. 4 release of a report from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which showed that heavy metals were present at dangerous levels in baby food made by Sprout Foods and six other major manufacturers. The report was put together by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.
Plaintiffs Irida Kimca and Derrick Sampson — who said they bought Sprout Foods products for their respective children — pointed to both reports in the instant complaint.
The company noted that Kimca and Sampson “do not claim to have conducted or commissioned any testing on the Sprout products they purchased.” The HBBF testing “involved only four Sprout products — out of over 50 types of products manufactured by Sprout, all with varying ingredients — conducted in October 2019”.
The parents never allege that the products they bought contained heavy metals and they at most “repeatedly (and conclusorily) allege that Sprout’s products ‘contained (or were at risk of containing) toxic heavy metals.”