High levels of lead have been found in at least six of the 20 most popular candies among children in Mexico City, raising concerns about industry standards and government oversight.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has established that the maximum content of lead in candies and other sweets should be 0.1 parts per million.
But popular candy brands produced in Mexico are over the limit. The highest levels were found in a chili lollipop known as Rockaleta Diablo, which contained 0.7 parts per million of lead. Others ranged between 0.13 and 0.37.
A study published last year in the magazine Environmental Research is the source of the lead content data, and the basis of a warning issued by the National Institute of Public Health.
The concerns go deeper, as it was also revealed that Mexico does not regulate lead levels in candy nor does it recommend a maximum allowed content.
The evidence should be used to “exert pressure on companies and get them to improve the quality of their candy and to get the government to set more strict rules and oversight in place,” said the authors of the study, “Lead in candy consumed and lead levels in the blood of children living in Mexico City.”
“No amount of lead should be found in any consumer products, especially those with which children might have contact.”
One of the candy makers denied yesterday that its products contained levels of lead that exceeded FDA limits. Tutsi Pop said lead levels were between nearly zero and 0.005 parts per million, and not the 0.13 as claimed in the study.
The study found that children aged between two and six consume on average at least three pieces of candy a day.
The researchers said that there is plenty of evidence linking lead concentrations in the blood, even at the lowest levels, with irreversible effects on neuropsychological functions and with intellectual deterioration.
Children run an even greater risk of being affected by lead, they continued, because their metabolism can absorb up to 50% of the ingested lead, while for adults it is only 10%.
Once ingested, lead is distributed in the body, reaching the brain, liver and kidneys and is deposited in bones and teeth.
Although lead’s effects on health are irreversible, a healthy diet could slow down its absorption and reduce the risk of kidney and motor diseases.
Source: Reforma (sp)