The Baby Food Council

The Baby Food Council was established as a multi-stakeholder group with the shared mission of seeking to reduce heavy metals in food consumed by babies and young children to as low as reasonably achievable using best-in-class management practices.

Four baby food companies created the Baby Food Council in January 2019 with the assistance of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The four companies were Happy Family Organics, Beech-Nut Nutrition, Earth’s Best, and Gerber Products Company.

Shortly after the Council’s creation, Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) joined the Baby Food Council and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joined as Technical Advisors.

In April 2021, FDA announced its Closer to Zero Action Plan with a goal to reduce exposure to heavy metals from foods commonly consumed by infants and young children to the extent reasonably achievable. Among other goals, the FDA intends to set Action levels for heavy metals in foods consumed by infants and young children.

Following FDA’s announcement, baby food member companies determined that work underway by the Baby Food Council to establish an independent standard for heavy metals was no longer required and efforts of the Baby Food Council should be focused on supporting the FDA Closer to Zero Action Plan. As a result, the work on a separate, independent standard and the work of the Council ceased. EDF, HBBF, and Cornell University formally announced their withdrawal from the Council in October 2021.

The baby food members companies are working to dissolve the council and wrap up any open issues and financial obligations.

All members remain committed to the mission that originally brought the Council together: to reduce heavy metals in foods to levels as low as reasonably achievable.


Additional Background

The Baby Food Council was a 501 (c) (3) organization under the auspices of Companies for Causes. For the Council’s Antitrust Statement, click here.

In early 2020, the Baby Food Council completed a lab proficiency study leading to identification of labs capable of accurately and consistently measuring low levels of elements in pureed baby foods. This study will allow for data to be analyzed across multiple labs for purposes of establishing a baseline for elements naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables and measuring improvement over time.

In July 2020, the Baby Food Council took on a new project to establish a Baby Food Standard and Certification Program.

Given FDA’s intention to set action levels through its Closer to Zero Action Plan announced in April 2021, Baby Food Council member companies made the decision to focus efforts on contributing and progressing the FDA Action Plan. As a result, the work of the Council has ceased.

In addition to establishing action levels to reduce exposure, the FDA Closer to Zero Action Plan will also focus on the following:
  • “Advancing research on and evaluating changes in dietary exposures to toxic elements;
  • Encouraging adoption of best practices by industry to lower levels of toxic elements in agricultural commodities and products;
  • Increasing targeted compliance and enforcement activities; and
  • Monitoring progress of levels over time

Baby Food Council Members: