ConsumerWatch Test Reveals High Levels Of Lead In Tableware

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Eating off ceramic cultural tableware could be toxic, according to several environmental groups.

According to Joanne Jenet with the Contra Costa Health Services, Chinese tableware and Mexican pottery could contain lead in the ceramic, paint or glaze.

“People should not be using them to eat with,” she said.

CBS 5 did its own investigation and purchased several dishes from San Francisco’s Chinatown and a few Mexican Grocery Stores in the Bay Area.

ConsumerWatch first tested the tableware with a lead kit but only found signs of lead in one dish.

The tableware was then taken to Forensic Analytical Laboratories in Hayward where scientist Dave Sandusky performed additional laboratory test. Eight out of ten dishes confirmed lead content and two contained high levels of lead.

A red Chinese spoon had 2,400 parts per million and a yellow Chinese bowl came in at 5,800 parts per million. The standard lead limit in children’s products is 300 parts per million said Caroline Cox with the Center for Environmental Health. According to Cox that limit should be used for tableware.

“Most of these dishes that we’re talking about are not children’s products but we know that kids may use them and we also think everyone should be protected from lead,” she said.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, lead content in tableware is not a concern. The FDA only regulates how much lead leaches onto tableware. Currently the agency’s limit is less then 3 parts per million. One of the Chinese spoons in our test leached 280 parts per million.

The FDA could not comment on a lab analyses it did not perform but told CBS 5 that lead leaching on surfaces where the public may eat is a serious concern and a violation of Federal law.

For consumers interested in having their dishes tested the Center for Environmental Health offers free testing. The Contra Costa Health Services also provides occasional lead testing.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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