Throughout 2021, there were several reports that stated that Beech-Nut baby food was contaminated with heavy toxic chemicals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. American baby food company Beech-Nut Nutrition faced a lawsuit over this matter.
Soon Beech-Nut recalled one of their baby foods, the Stage 1 Single Rice Grain cereal, that was noted to contain a high level of arsenic. However, the other products made by Beech-Nut are still available in the market.
So, what gives? According to the manufacturer, most of their baby food is made with farm-sourced fruits and vegetables. These products can contain trace amounts of lead and arsenic from soil.
Although Beech-Nut Nutrition reassures its customers that their baby food goes through intensive quality testing methods, the truth is this – some presence of heavy metals is unavoidable in fruits and vegetables if they are sourced from farms with soil rich in these metals.
This is true not just for Beech-nut but also for anything that you consume.
Why was Beechnut baby food recalled?
A routine sampling program in 2021 found alarmingly high levels of arsenic in Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Rice Grain cereal.
The quantity of arsenic was more than the FDA-approved level for naturally occurring arsenic. This led Beech-Nut to voluntarily recall their baby food.
The Beech-Nut company states on its website that heavy metals like arsenic are found in water, soil, and air all around us; and often these contaminants make their way to the foods we eat.
Regardless, Beech-Nut assures its customers that it always strives to improve the quality testing methods by using up-to-date scientific techniques. The company states that it is also seeking advice and guidance from organizations like FDA, EPA, and WHO in this aspect.
What is in Beech-Nut baby food?
The Beech-Nut company produces various types of baby food. There are cereals that come in containers and different kinds of fruit and vegetable blends that come in jars and pouches.
There are a bunch of snacks for toddlers like baked veggie crisps, oat bars, fruit and veggie bars, and Melties with or without probiotics that again come in pouches.
The Beech-Nut purees and blends are made of a wide variety of farm-fresh fruits and veggies like apples, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, butternut squashes, carrots, pears, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, prunes, pumpkins, pineapples, and cereals like oats and granola.
The snacks for toddlers are also made up of fruits and veggies along with oats and yogurt.
Does Beech-Nut baby food have heavy metals like lead and Arsenic?
Yes. Beech-Nut baby food has been sued for above-permissible levels of heavy metals like lead and arsenic. The standard level of lead permissible in bottled water is 5 ppb. While Beech-Nut baby food contains over 20 ppb of lead.
Lead has many acute side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The standard level of arsenic permissible in bottled water is 10 ppb. Again, Beech-Nut baby food contains more than 10 ppb of arsenic.
Arsenic is a highly toxic metal that can enter into human cells and can even cause death! Some lighter side-effects are skin redness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and muscle cramps.
Does Beech-Nut baby food have preservatives?
Beech-Nut fruit and vegetable purees contain preservatives like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or lemon juice concentrate.
Natural fruit and vegetable purees can go bad easily. To prevent this, the puree is deaerated to remove the oxygen present. Oxygen in foods leads to browning and decomposition.
The puree is also slowly cooked for a long time to ensure the baby food is free of bacteria and enzymes which could break down the food and decompose it.
These two processes ensure the shelf-stability of Beech-Nut products.
Is Beech-Nut baby food gluten-free?
Some of the Beech-Nut baby foods are gluten-free, while others contain gluten. If your child is allergic to gluten, then you should steer clear of the following products:
- Beech-Nut naturals superblends apple, yogurt, cinnamon & oat jar
- Beech-Nut naturals superblends mango, carrot, yogurt & oat jar
- Beech-Nut naturals apple, cinnamon & granola jar
- Organics apple, pumpkin & granola jar
- Organics banana, cinnamon & granola jar
- Oatmeal cereal canister
- Multigrain cereal canister
- Organics oatmeal cereal canister
These products either contain wheat or oat flour. So they are glutinous foods.
Is Beech-Nut baby food organic?
Yes. There is a wide variety of Beech-Nut purees that are certified by USDA as organic. They are free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. The jar purees are titled “Organics” and come in two kinds – one for 6+ months old babies, and another for 8+ months old babies.
Many different types of fruit and vegetable purees made by Beech-Nut fall into this organic category, including, but not limited to Organics Apple Jar, Prune Jar, Carrots Jar, Pear Jar, Sweet Potato Jar, Banana Cinnamon, and Granola Jar, Pear Kale and Cucumber Jar.
You simply have to look out for the “Organics” label on the Beech-Nut puree jars to figure out if they are organic or not.
Is Beech-Nut baby food kosher?
Yes, certain Beech-Nut baby food products are kosher. They are:
- Apple & blueberries jar
- Apple jar
- Banana jar
- Garden vegetables jar
- Pear jar
- Squash jar
- Sweet carrots jar
- Sweet potatoes jar
- Sweet peas jar
How many ounces in Beech-Nut baby food?
One jar of Beech-Nut baby food contains 4 ounces, or 8 tablespoons, of fruit and/or vegetable puree. So if you want to give these purees one tablespoon every day to your babies, then the jars would last for a week. But, as this baby food, once opened, stays good for 3 days when refrigerated properly, you should finish this within 3 days of opening.
One pouch of Beech-Nut puree contains 3.5 ounces of 7 tablespoons. One canister of Beech-Nut baby cereal contains 8 ounces or 16 tablespoons.
Is Beech Nut baby food made in the USA?
Most of the baby food products of Beech-Nut are produced in its headquarters in the city of Amsterdam in New York, USA. Some pouches and snacks are produced in other parts of the world. Beech-Nut does not specify the places for these products.
How long is Beech-Nut baby food good for?
Unopened Beech-Nut baby food will be good till its best by date. But once opened, the food will remain good and eatable up to 3 days when refrigerated properly.
When does Beech-Nut baby food expire?
Every Beech-Nut baby food product comes with a ‘Best by date’. For cereals, you can find this date at the bottom of the bottle or canister. For foods preserved in jars, the date is engraved on the top or side of the lid of the jar. For pouches and Melties, you can find the best by date at the bottom of the pouch near the barcode of the product.
For the toddler snack bars, the best by date appears on the bottom of the carton and on the packet of each individual bar.
Can you freeze Beech-Nut baby food?
While you can technically freeze Beech-Nut baby food, and thaw them at a later date, it is not recommended simply because the product is not designed to be stored such.
Before opening Beech-Nut baby food, you should store it at room temperature. After opening the jar, or pouch of fruit and/or vegetable puree, you should refrigerate the container and consume the product within 3 days.
Is Beech-Nut baby food WIC approved?
Yes. Beech-Nut baby food is approved by WIC (Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children). This program aims to provide nutritious food to low-income women and their infants and children.
Is Beech-Nut baby food good and healthy?
Beech-Nut baby food has been tested to contain high levels of arsenic and lead in them. This can make it a scary proposition.
But here is the thing – most of these contaminants seep in from the soil and you are hence likely to come in contact with them even without having to consume Beech-Nut products.
The additional media and legal scrutiny on Beech-Nut is perhaps a good reason to trust the safety of their products for the foreseeable future.
I am Anand, and I am a business owner and consultant in my day job. I have spent years studying what’s inside the products we buy. ‘Feedrer’ is a wordplay on you-know-who and talks about all things food.