Apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears, packaged peaches, and fruit cocktails marketed under familiar brand names that include Del Monte, Dole, Gerber, Beech Nut and Trader Joe's often contain levels of lead that exceed the California Proposition 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms per serving, according to the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF).
Proposition 65, a "Right to Know" law, requires that manufacturers and retailers provide "clear and reasonable warning" to the public if a product contains a toxic material at levels that present a significant risk. ELF has filed "Notices of Violation" and will follow up with a lawsuit if no action is taken in the next 60 days.
How worried should parents be about these lead levels?
FDA, in 2006, established a "provisional total tolerable intake level" of 6 micrograms of lead per day for small children. A serving of fruit juice or fruit that contains 0.5 micrograms of lead would represent one-twelfth of that total tolerable daily intake. Unfortunately, ELF has not told us just how much lead was found – only that many of the products contained 0.5 micrograms of lead or more per serving.
California, by the way, follows FDA's guidance of 6 micrograms of lead per day for small children. The State's limit of 0.5 micrograms per serving relates to lead that may leach from flatware and tableware – not to lead in food.
I agree with ELF that there is no absolute safe level of lead intake. But there are degrees of risk, and it's impossible to evaluate the seriousness of the risk without knowing how much lead was actually found in these samples. Therefore, I call upon the Environmental Law Foundation practice the same transparency that we hope to receive from our government agencies.
ELF must release the actual lead levels that were found in the 398 samples of fruit drinks and packaged fruits that were analyzed in this study. Anything less is demagoguery.
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