Dole, Del Monte, Gerber in court over lead warnings for baby food

A field at the Dole Helemano Pineapple Plantation near Wahiawa, Hawaii.
(Phil Mislinski / Getty Images)

Major baby-food makers such as Dole Food Co., Del Monte Foods Co. and Nestle’s Gerber business are going to court Monday to determine whether they need to warn consumers of certain lead levels in their products.

In a 2011 lawsuit, the Environmental Law Foundation alleged that some of the companies’ foods and juices -- which included ingredients such as carrots, peaches, pears and sweet potatoes -- contained enough lead to warrant a consumer caution label under California’s Proposition 65 toxins warning law.

A non-jury trial in the case is set to begin Monday in state Superior Court in Oakland. Dole is based in Westlake Village, and Del Monte is headquartered in San Francisco. Nestle is headquartered in Switzerland.


Nestle did not immediately return a request for comment. Dole and Del Monte declined to comment.

About 500,000 American children between 1 and 5 years old have unsafe lead levels in their blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency said that “even low levels of lead in the blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement.”


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Dole sells businesses to Japanese firm Itochu for $1.7 billion