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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

Comments (17)
  1. Which is it? says:

    First they say lead was found in one dish, then they say eight out of ten have lead.

    1. consumer says:

      lead kits are from home depot, the additional tests were carried out in a laboratory. so which one do you think it is?

      1. Now I know says:

        Thanks consumer, I should have read it more carefully.

  2. it's a lie says:

    Another dirty tricks used by american companies to envoke protestionist measures on imports from other countries especially china. The CEH is nothing but a tool to hold off imports and protect local business from competition which violates WTO rules.

    1. Give me a break says:

      Not a chance! China it completely corrupt. They lied about the Olympics, they rip off any foreign investors and anything coming out of China is of poor quality and created in the cheapest and worst possible conditions.

      1. NO BREAK! NO BREAK! says:

        If what you’re saying is true, than all the folks dancing around flaunting their poor quality cheap IPADS, IPHONE, IMAC, ANDROID PHONES are idoits. How about the brand name clothing you are wearing? Most are made in China! I hope you put your head back in your behind…cause it’s the greedy american companies that turn a blind eye on the factories that make those products. If they the US companies really care about quality in those factories then they can put more oversight into the manufacturing of their products. Quality will certainly have to pass those US companies standards in order to export and sell here in US. If the product breaks down than it is because of bad design and that my friend is the fault of US companies not Chinese factories. If the quality of products is not good and those US companies know it and still sell it back in US..then that is the US fault for ripping of consumers.

    2. Tara says:

      No, it isn’t a lie. Some other dangerous products: jewelry (even childrens’) containing toxic heavy metals and radioactive metals; radioactive granite countertops and tiles; toxic clothing made of “bt cotton” or “bioactive fibers;” toxic furnishings with “bioactive fibers” in pressed wood components. We need regulators, 10,000’s of people who can’t be bribed, to INSPECT CONSUMER GOODS, TEST THEM for human and environmental safety, and report them, take them off the shelves, ban them from the country. Where are our tens of thousands of regulators WHO CANNOT BE BRIBED.

  3. bill jason says:

    Obviously the lab equipment had been containmented by lead before testing, so tha it always read more. In addition, when you break down the tableware to test inside, the tool did break down may add lead into the test result.

    Besides, only test from FDA counts, flavored tests are not worth to trust.

    1. Stop lying says:

      As if your name is Bill Jason? Stop trying to support China’s bad track record! Your lies are obvious and your grammer and punctuation give you away. “not worth to trust”? We know you are a plant from some chinese business!

    2. Tara says:

      What is your Chinese name, Bill?

  4. Dung says:

    Big deal about lead danger in the tiny amount . If it’s that danger, then all of the electronics workers should already dead.

    1. Try Again! says:

      That is the problem about products from China. You do not care about quality. You comment says as much “big deal”. No big deal to kill babies, or pets or you neighbors for that matter as long as you make money doing it. Sad. Very sad.
      You grammer is still poor and marks you as a plant. Nice try though!

      1. Tara says:

        That’s right. No big deal if the bt cotton cloth is genetically engineered to slowly kill you and your family with MORGELLONS DISEASE. “Oh we have dis in China, iss no beeg deal! It only affect da poor who cannot afford luxury goods. What is your relationship to luxury? I own a factory, I own slaves, I don’t haffa to worry about des tings.” No big deal if the pressed wood contains bio-active fibers loaded with nanomachines, parasite eggs, fungal spores, designed to kill you. No big deal if the drywall destroys your home and health. I still amakin money money.

  5. Boycott China says:

    Why do Chinese hacks always post in these articles? People whom buy food from China, eat off dishware from China or cook with cookware from China are taking their lives into their hands. Nobreak posted that Apple goods were made in China. Well, those are American companies overseeing cheap labor and quality control. I do not see Chinese companies making good quality products. They steal our ideas and rip everyone off including each other. Stop trying to protect China. Everyone knows China sucks. Notice that no one from Mexico piped in here? They all know that some of the stuff make in Mexico, especially glazed cookware is not great to eat off of, yet they do not take this as a personal attack on Mexico.