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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Some “Lead-Free” Pottery Can Still Taint Food

Some "Lead-Free" Pottery Can Still Taint Food - (FLICKR)



From a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Consumer Alert [last updated 11/22/2010]

Colorful pottery may look nice on the dining room table. But beware: it can cause serious harm if it can contaminate food placed in it with lead.

Although we’re all exposed to small amounts of lead during our daily routine, exposure to large amounts can cause lead poisoning, a dangerous condition that occurs when the body absorbs lead into the bloodstream.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has confirmed reports from local and state agencies that traditional ceramic pottery made by several manufacturers in Mexico—and labeled “lead free”—in fact contains lead.

Agency investigators have in some cases found that the pottery exceeded FDA’s limits for “leachable” lead—lead that could get into food that comes in contact with the pottery.

This makes the dishware potentially hazardous if it’s used for cooking, preparing, serving, or storing food or drinks….

[The article goes on to describe how some manufacturing processes contribute to potential lead poisoning ]

….Advice for Consumers
Be aware that some pottery should be used for decoration only, and not for holding or serving food.
Also, know that a child with lead poisoning may not look or act sick. If your child has been eating or drinking from pottery that may have allowed lead to leach into food, talk to your health care professional about testing your child’s blood for lead.

  • Be wary if pottery you have was purchased from a flea market or a street vendor, or if you are unable to determine whether the pottery is from a reliable manufacturer.
  • Look over your pottery and check to see if it is handmade with a crude appearance or irregular shape
  • antique
  • damaged or excessively worn
  • brightly decorated in orange, red, or yellow colors

If you have pottery that fits any of these descriptions or if you’re concerned about the safety of pottery in your home, you can:

  • Look for a warning label on the pottery. If the pottery was made for use only as a decorative item, it may have a warning (such as “Not for Food Use—May Poison Food”) stamped onto the bottom.
  • Test the pottery. Lead-testing kits, which are sold in hardware stores and online, come with swabs and instructions. They do not damage the pottery. With most, the swab will change colors if lead leaches onto the swab. If a test reveals a positive result for leachable lead, don’t use the pottery for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.
  • If you are unable to test the pottery or otherwise determine that it is not from a reliable manufacturer, don’t use it for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.

Be aware that no amount of washing, boiling, or other process can remove lead from pottery.

For More Information

November 23, 2010 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | ,

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