On 6 February, Chinese social media users were told by the Maternal and Child Industry Committee of China Commercial Economy Society that Gerber products contain toxic metals ‘to a dangerous degree’. The group cited a US report that had found ‘dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals’ in certain baby foods, which could cause neurological damage.
A Gerber representative said the elements in question occur naturally in the soil and water in which crops are grown and the company has taken multiple steps to minimise their presence.
The company has issued a statement confirming its baby cereal products are safe.
“All Gerber products produced in China comply with China’s food safety standards on complementary foods for infants and babies,” the Swiss conglomerate said.
A member of staff of the Maternal and Child Industry Committee of China Commercial Economy Society told Reuters the notice was meant to be an internal one. They added the notice has been deleted from the group’s social media page and been replaced with one that states that Chinese authorities had not sanctioned the removal of Gerber products from shops, which were being sold as normal.
Warnings over food safety in China are only allowed to be published by the State Council.
However, Nestle said it has reported the association to authorities. It said the post would have been widely circulated, causing confusion among consumers and damaging the company’s reputation.