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Prop 65 lawsuit targets lead in Nurture’s food products

Gavel 2020

Nurture Inc. is named as a defendant in a new lawsuit under California’s Proposition 65, based on allegations that raviolis and other food products marketed to toddlers contain more lead than allowed under state law.

Ecological Alliance LLC also has sued two retailers who sell Nurture’s food products: Target Corp. and Whole Foods Market California Inc.

Plaintiff’s testing revealed one serving of Happytot cheese and spinach raviolis exposes a child to roughly 6.23 micrograms of lead, according to the lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court. That’s more than 12 times greater than Prop 65 allows per day (0.5 micrograms) for lead, Ecological Alliance alleged.

The suit further alleged plaintiff’s testing found one serving of Happytot apple spinach and oat bars expose a child to about 0.54 micrograms of lead.

Neither product, whose lead levels were uncovered through independent testing, carry a Prop 65 warning, according to a June 15 press release announcing the lawsuit.

Also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Prop 65 requires businesses to warn Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Ecological Alliance is requesting a preliminary and permanent injunction to bar the defendants from producing, distributing and selling the food products without first furnishing a “clear and reasonable warning” under Prop 65.

The lawsuit also seeks reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as civil penalties based on an amount the court considers appropriate.

Nurture and other manufacturers of foods marketed to tots have come under fire after a congressional report in February found baby foods contain “dangerous levels” of heavy metals, including lead.

Manufacturers of several brands of baby food face dozens of proposed class action lawsuits across the country. The suits allege various causes of action—from unfair business practices and violations of state consumer protection laws to unjust enrichment and fraudulent concealment and omission.

Vineet Dubey, an L.A. lawyer who filed the Prop 65 lawsuit on behalf of the Ecological Alliance, said in the press release that lead poisoning can “seriously damage a child’s brain and nervous system, stunt their growth and development, and cause hearing and speech problems,” as well as result in behavioral problems and affect a kid’s ability to learn.

Nurture said in a statement that it “stands by the quality and safety of all of its products.” While the company declined to comment substantively on the pending lawsuit, Nurture said it intends “to vigorously defend this case.”

Target and Whole Foods Market did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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