Newport supplement company fined $213,000 for selling products with excessive levels of lead and cadmium

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A Newport Beach-based nutritional supplement company has been fined more than $200,000 for selling products containing excessive levels of lead and cadmium, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Amazing Grass, also known as Grass Advantage, was hit with $213,167 in penalties and a list of demands to demonstrate reduced levels of heavy metals in its products, per the terms of a settlement the attorney general’s office announced Friday.

The company — which sells organic food supplements, greens and protein powders — did not immediately comment when reached Tuesday.

According to the AG’s office, state investigators found excessive levels of lead or cadmium in the company’s Amazing Meal Chocolate Infusion and Amazing Grass Raw Reserve Chocolate in violation of California law, which requires businesses to provide warnings before exposing consumers to chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. Heavy metals such as these can cause neurological impairments, organ damage and other ailments.

The AG’s office also alleged that Amazing Grass violated the state’s false advertising law.

The settlement also covers 11 other products in the company’s Amazing Meal, Amazing Grass Organic and Amazing Grass Green Superfood lines. The company has elected to discontinue seven of those, according to the AG’s office.

Plant-based protein products tend to have at least detectable levels of heavy metals, according to research by the Clean Label Project and Consumer Reports. Experts attribute this to plants directly absorbing toxins that are naturally found in soil or contained in pesticides and fertilizers.

As part of the settlement, Amazing Grass must retain a food quality auditor to help bring down lead levels and calculate the amount of any naturally occurring lead, as well as label products with applicable warnings and routinely test its products and report its findings to the AG’s office for at least three years.

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