Plum PBC and Campbell Soup Co. have asked a New Jersey federal court to throw out claims that they sold baby food with dangerous levels of heavy metals in them, saying the claims are based on an “alarmist” government report and nobody in the suit has alleged anyone was actually harmed by the products.
The companies took aim at a number of suits consolidated in the Garden State, saying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is already acting on a February report from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform that found heavy metals in baby food products. They said the FDA is the proper place to determine what, if anything, should be done, not the courts.
The FDA previously determined that children are not at an immediate health risk based on the levels of heavy metals, so even if the court will not dismiss the claims as unfounded, it should stay them until the FDA has finished its investigation.
Campbell argued that it is not a proper party to the suit, given that while it owned Plum as a subsidiary, Plum operated as a separate entity that was responsible for its own products, and was the sole holder of its brand. Campbell no longer owns Plum, having sold the company in May, and the complaint is unable to link any of Campbell’s action to Plum’s alleged wrongdoing.
Regarding the substance of the claims, the companies argued that the plaintiffs have no standing to pursue the litigation, as none of them alleged that their children were actually harmed by consuming the products.
After a House report was released, major baby food manufacturers were hit with suits earlier this year alleging that they allow high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury into their products and mislead consumers about how healthy their baby food is.
The companies involved soon found themselves sparring at the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on whether, and how, the cases should be consolidated.