Integrity, Heavy Metals, and Baby Food

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

23 August 2018

One of the many hats I wear on any given day, and probably my favorite one, is Mom. I’ve been blessed with two children, ages 3 years and 8 months. But it comes with some unexpected challenges. Case in point: I read a recent consumer report entitled, “Heavy Metals in Baby Food: What You Need To Know.” Back to that in a moment.

Harsh Penalties

There are harsh penalties for parents who smoke in the car with their children, do not have the proper car safety seats in use, and neglect their children in other ways. Even by making different choices than your mom-counterparts, you surrender to a little mom-shaming. I’ve been shamed for breastfeeding, co-sleeping, holding my children too much, vaccinating them, allowing them to sleep on their bellies, and even talking too nicely to them. Being a mother in 2018 is no easy feat. Everyone is watching and judging your every move. Even if we perform to our utmost mom potential, it seems the Organic Whole Grain Oatmeal we feed our offspring could cause more harm than that occasional Parliament Light’s second-hand smoke in the back seat.


To graduate with my Finance degree, I was required to take an ethics course. It was one of the easiest classes I had to take, but I imagine not everyone has a functioning moral compass. And in hindsight, I’m not sure one class is enough for instilling a moral compass in a person.

The consumer report found 50 out of 50 tested baby-food products contained at least one heavy metal, and 68% had worrisome levels of at least one heavy metal. What will be the harsh punishments for the baby-food industry? Can it be held responsible for the developmental delays of the consumers of its products? I can stop feeding my 8-month-old all processed baby-food products, but what about my three-year-old? I imagine these heavy metals didn’t show up in the food overnight.


When you work in our field, marketing, a missed typo or a flawed design will make its way to publication from time to time. When it happens on our watch, we take responsibility for and eat the cost of making it right. We’re proud of our work. We’ll never promise to be perfect, but we’ll promise to treat our customers the way we’d like to be treated. That’s what you do when you care about your customers. That’s the Golden Rule.

It’s only realistic to recognize not everyone is born with a functioning moral compass. And all moral compasses don’t point the same way. But we’d do the world — not just Moms — a favor if we adopted some rules, applied them uniformly, and enforced them unfailingly.

In lieu of that, maybe we can all agree to do right things.