Category Archives: Better Laws

Alarming Study Of Baby Foods And Formulas

.jpg photo of Baby in high chair
A new study by the Clean Label Project suggests most baby food contains dangerous contaminates.

These baby foods and formulas tested
positive for Arsenic, Lead and BPA
in new study

An alarming study released Wednesday found many baby food products test positive for arsenic, including 80% of infant formulas. And, that’s not the only dangerous contaminate found.

Best five products compared to the worst five tested:

  • 170% more ARSENIC than the best.
  • 35% more CADMIUM than the best.
  • 30% more LEAD than the best.
  • 20% more ACRYLAMIDE than the best.

The Clean Label Project, a nonprofit advocating for transparent labeling, tested baby food, infant formulas, toddler drinks and snacks purchased within the past 5 months.  The group, which did not publish findings in a peer-reviewed journal, looked at top-selling formulas and baby food using Nielsen data, and also included emerging national brands.  After about 530 baby food products were tested, researchers found 65% of products tested positive for arsenic, 36% for lead, 58% for cadmium and 10% for acrylamide.  All of these chemicals pose potential dangers to developing infants.

  • Certified “ORGANIC” baby food products Tested have OVER 2X the ARSENIC compared to conventional baby foods Tested.
  • Nearly 80% of infant formula samples Tested POSITIVE for ARSENIC.
  • 60% of products claiming to be “BPA FREE” Tested POSITIVE for BPA.

Jennifer Lowry, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., who is not affiliated with the research, said these chemicals can affect fine motor skills and cognition.

Mainstream brands including Gerber, Enfamil, Plum Organics and Sprout were among the worst offenders — scoring two out of five in the Clean Label Project’s report card for toxic metals.  Plus, 60% of products claiming to be “BPA free” tested positive for the industrial chemical bisphenol A.  The quantities of contaminates range, but some products tested positive for up to 600 parts of arsenic per billion.  That’s far more than just trace amounts.

Environmental group warns of lead in baby food

Arsenic was the most common contaminate spotted in the Clean Label Project study.  Nearly 80% of infant formula samples tested positive for arsenic.  The toxin is associated with developmental defects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, diabetes and even cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of Clean Label Project and a food safety scientist, said rice-based baby food such as snack puffs had some of the highest levels of arsenic.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but isn’t enforcing that limit.  Rice often absorbs arsenic from contaminated soil as it grows in the environment.

“It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food,” Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson.

Lead, also found in food tested by the Clean Label Project, has been found in baby food before.  Just a few months ago, the Environmental Defense Fund found 20% of 2,164 baby food samples tested contained lead.  No amount of lead is safe, but it’s not regulated.

Low levels of lead in children’s blood have been connected to lower IQs, slowed growth, behavioral problems, hearing issues and anemia, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Clean Label Project posted a list of products it tested, along with a star-rating grade informed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, on its website.  Bowen said she hopes the data helps parents become better advocates for their children’s health, and creates change in the baby food business.

“The baby industry needs to do a better job in protecting America’s most vulnerable population,” Bowen said.

OK Parent Of The Year In Prison Instead

.jpg photo of woman recognized as DHS Adoptive Parent of the Year in NE OK
Deidre Matthews, 50

Oklahoma woman formerly named DHS Adoptive Parent of the Year gets prison time in Child Abuse case

JAY, OK  –  An Oklahoma woman who was formerly named DHS Adoptive Parent of the Year received prison time in connection to a child abuse case.

In 2006, Deidre Matthews, 50, and her former husband, Jerry Matthews, were recognized as Department of Human Services Adoptive Parents of the Year for northeast Oklahoma, the Tulsa World reports.

While the two were married, they reportedly lived with nine children, ages 4 through 17, in an animal feces-infested mobile home in Jay, Oklahoma.

The couple also owned more than 50 animals, including three spider monkeys and 11 lemurs.

According to the Tulsa World, court records show that under the care of Deidre Matthews, the oldest teen was forced to kill her pet kitten by bashing its head into a tree; another child was handcuffed and placed in a dog cage; children were made to stand outside or walk around the house naked; and children were kept home from school to avoid detection of bruises, welts and wounds.

Matthews is also accused of beating the children, allowing pet monkeys to bite the two teen daughters, and withholding food and water as punishment.

Her husband, Jerry, pleaded no contest to two counts of child neglect in 2016.  He received a suspend life sentence in exchange for testifying against his former wife.

This week, Deidre Matthews pleaded no contest to 12 counts of child abuse, child neglect and child endangerment.

According to the Tulsa World, Matthews received a life sentence, all but four years of which was suspended.

The local assistant district attorney said Matthews will receive credit for the year she spent in county jail and that she will only have to serve 85 percent of her sentence.

No Better Than Sewer Rats

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Mandated reporters of Child Abuse ignored the sexual abuse of a Child.

Police: 4 failed to report Child Sexual Abuse

LITTLESTOWN, PA  –  Four employees of a residential treatment program for children in Adams County are charged after police say they failed to report the sexual abuse of a child.

The employees of Hoffman Homes for Youth in Littlestown also failed to seek medical attention for the boy after he was sexually assaulted by another resident in November, state police said in charging documents.

Glenn Nace, 27, of Hanover; Antonio Hill, 23, of Chambersburg; Guy Joseph, 52; and Timothy Speelman, 31, both of Gettysburg, are each charged with failure to report child abuse, a second-degree misdemeanor, and endangering the welfare of children, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Adams County Assistant District Attorney Megan Zei said the four were all mandated reporters of child abuse.

Eighty Percent Of The Time

.jpg photo of Child Abuse victim
Danyelle Dyer, 21,

Recently-Released Child Molester Moves in Next Door to Victim — and It’s Legal:
‘The Law Is Not on Our Side’

OKLAHOMA  –  A convicted Oklahoma sex offender recently released from prison is living next door to the woman he molested when she was a little girl — and it’s legal for him to do so.

Reached by phone Thursday, Danyelle Dyer, 21, tells she was “extremely shocked” to learn her abusive uncle would be living just yards away upon his release from prison June 13.

“I was pretty outraged, but I have channeled that rage into a more positive outlet, which, for me, is sharing my story and empowering other victims of sexual assault,” Dyer says, adding her parents researched state laws in the hopes of blocking the move, only to learn they had no legal recourse.

“It was disheartening to learn the law is not on our side,” she says.

When Dyer was a little girl, her uncle, Harold English, sexually abused her.  English, now 65, served more than a dozen years behind bars following his 2004 conviction on lewd molestation charges.

Upon his release, English moved into his mother’s home in Bristow, next door to where the victim has always resided.

“I was coming back from class and he was out mowing in my grandmother’s backyard, and it made me uneasy just being home,” Dyer tells.  “I go to school in Edmond so I’m only home half the time, and I think twice before going home now.  I have a very close family, so it’s hard for me to not constantly be with them.”

Only five states — including Alabama and Tennessee — place restrictions on how far an offender can live from his or her victim.

Lawmaker: ‘This is Unacceptable’

Dyer revealed the abuse through a Facebook post, just days after learning her abuser was her next-door neighbor.  She hopes that by coming forward with her story, she can help other victims in similar predicaments.

To that end, Dyer and her family have been meeting with State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, who says he is committed to introducing fresh legislation to bar offenders from living within a certain distance of their victims.

“I feel so terrible for Danyelle, because every day, she comes home and she has to relive that nightmare over and over again,” Hilbert says.  “This is unacceptable and should not be allowed in Oklahoma and frankly, anywhere in the United States.”

Current Oklahoma statute bars sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, or daycare facility.  However, updating that legislation might not be effective, says Hilbert, who represents a densely rural portion of the state.

“The problem is, in this area, 1,000 feet could actually still be your closest neighbor,” Hilbert explains.  “I want to introduce language that goes further than that. Such a burden should not be placed on the victim.”

Hilbert says he is “incredibly proud” of Dyer for having the courage to take a public stand against her abuser, and believes her bravery will end up having an impact on the lives of victims throughout the state.

Oklahoma’s legislature only meets between February and May, meaning lawmakers won’t return to the capital until 2018.  Hilbert says he has plenty to do between now and then, and hopes to get the new bill in front of the state house as soon as possible.

For now, Hilbert says Dyer may be able to seek a “victim protective order” from a local judge, which would force English to find new living quarters.  Dyer says she started pursuing such an order this week.

Family Tension

Dyer says she no longer wants anything to do with her grandmother because of her decisions; when she was in high school, her uncle was released and lived with her grandmother until he violated probation and “went right back” to prison.

“She is supposed to protect me, she is supposed to take care of me,” Dyer says, “so for her to turn on me like this, she obviously doesn’t care about me.”

The reporter was unable to reach English or his mother, and Dyer says she, too, has had no contact with them since June 13.  She did write her grandmother a letter about the situation, but did not get a reply.

On Friday afternoon, Dyer and others will take to the streets outside her home, to let her uncle know his presence is not wanted.

“We’re doing a peaceful protest rally at my house and we’re lining the streets with signs,” she says.  “If I can’t make him move, I want to make him as uncomfortable as possible.”

Nurses With AntiChild Agenda?

.jpg photo of Child Sex Abuse graphic
Nurses with AntiChild Agenda?

Report claims NC hospital nurses refused to
report Child Sexual Abuse to DSS

MONROE, NC  –  A report obtained by CBS North Carolina’s Charlotte affiliate WBTV shows the nursing staff on duty at CMC-Union Hospital one night in November 2016 refused to call DSS after a child disclosed facts that implicated sexual abuse.

The report was filled out by James Jackson, who was working at the hospital as a security guard.

According to the report, the nurse in charge of caring for the young male patient refused to report the boy’s allegations of possible sexual abuse.

“I told his nurse about it and she said that she would not believe anything that he says because of his history at the hospital,” Jackson wrote in his report.

State law requires anyone aware of possible child abuse to report it to social services.

Jackson wrote in his report filed at the time of the incident that he called the nursing supervisor and, later, the charge nurse about reporting the boy’s allegations of sexual abuse but both of them declined to take action, too.

Ultimately, Jackson reported the boy’s allegations to Union County DSS himself and the agency opened an investigation into the claims.

“From what I can understand from being here, it’s not the first time this has happened,” Jackson said.  “But this is the time it happened with me on duty and I couldn’t let that go.  I couldn’t let it go that a child is being sexually abused like that and no one do anything about it.”

Jackson told WBTV that he tried to file a complaint with the North Carolina Board of Nursing but was told by a board staff member that it was having problems investigating his complaint because the hospital would not return phone calls.

Carolinas HealthCare System refused multiple requests for an interview but issued the following statement:

“Carolinas HealthCare System policy, in accordance with North Carolina statutes, requires that all cases of suspected child abuse or neglect be reported to Department of Social Services (DSS).  Calls to DSS are initiated by any CHS employee who identifies potential abuse or neglect.

We take all reports of abuse and neglect seriously and work closely with DSS and other governing authorities when the situation warrants.  Every day, our doctors, nurses and teammates care for vulnerable patients and advocate for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.  Elevating hope and advancing healing is not just part of our mission, it is integral to who we are as a healthcare system.”

While we cannot discuss the specifics of this case due to patient and employee privacy laws, we can say that after reviewing this issue, we do not believe the version of events represented accurately reflects what occurred.  We are dedicated to the health and well-being of all patients in our care and will continue to cooperate with the proper authorities and assist with any inquiries that may arise.”

A spokeswoman for the hospital did not provide any additional facts to support the assertion that Jackson’s account of what happened – as documented in his report filed at the time of the incident – was incorrect.  The hospital also did not elaborate on what, specifically, it felt was inaccurate.

Jackson ultimately left his job as a security guard at the hospital after, he said, he received growing pressure as a result of blowing the whistle on what happened.  But he said he would do it again.

“We must report this. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t do it,” he said.  “I don’t ever want to see another child go through this here or anywhere else.”