Lead Poisoning and Ceramic Glazed Dishes

October 10, 2008

Lead poisoning and ceramic glazed dishes remain a concern.  Since I received several comments on my post, Lead Poisoning and Crock Pots, I thought I would tackle the subject of Lead Poisoning again.

The holidays are approaching and cute holiday dishes will be everywhere.  Which dishes can you use with food and which are just to be used as decoration?  The best thing to do is watch the labels.  Many holiday type dishes will state whether you can serve food in them or not.  If a sticker states…”Not Food Safe”, I would not purchase the product for food use… but only as a decoration.

For many years I designed products for the craft and gift markets.  This Christmas bowl was manufactured in China.  With the label stating, “Not for Use in Microwave and Handwash” it’s a pretty good guess that this product contains lead in the glaze… and I designed this bowl.  Whoooh!  Who do you trust?  Since I can’t part with the bowl, I use if for chips and popcorn.  I don’t put anything hot in it.

I paid a pretty good price for this bowl.  With the stamp,  “Oven Safe – Freezer – Microwave – Dishwasher”, printed on the bottom, it’s a pretty safe bet the bowl does not contain lead.

I would be a bit skeptical of the dishes brought in from China that are sold in $1.00 discount stores.  They are cheap for a reason.  Lead glazes are inexpensive to make.  I know… I was a ceramic student while getting my art degree.

Several years ago, I purchased some darling antique bowls.  They are so old, the glazed has cracked giving the bowls a fun “vintage” look.  After doing a bit of reading… these cute little bowls should never be used to served food.  The fact they’re old and cracked, they most likely contain lead and will seep lead by way of the cracks.  No sense in poisoning the family.   Hmmm… On the other hand… who can I invite to dinner?

So, the old ceramic dishes given to you by grandma should not be use to serve food but used as a decoration. We have only been aware of the dangers of ceramic glazes containing lead in the last few years.

Putting hot foods in lead based ceramic glazed dishes is the rub.  It is also suggested that you don’t store food in the fridge in ceramic glazed dishes either.  Glass is probably the best.  However, I don’t think a one time shot of putting taco chips in a ceramic bowl is going to create a lead poisoning problem.

If you have any questions about the dishes you own… the best precaution is to contact the manufacture of the dishes your use.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana.

P.S.  Remember to check out the Halloween Blog Party going on at Cottage In The County.

Lead Poisoning and Crock Pots

October 4, 2008

Crock pots containing lead was the subject of an investigation that started in Salt Lake City with KUTV’s Bill Gephardt. After his investigation about lead in ceramic glazed plates, bowls and mugs and finding high a content of lead in them, his focus turned to ceramic glazed crock pots after a viewer did a little research on her own.

A mom from Weber County, was a frequent user of her crock pot. Her concern about lead poisoning prompted her to take her Rival slow cooker to the county fair, where a booth was doing free lead testing on dishes. What she discovered was her crock pot contain lead. She notified Gephardt about her findings and he took the investigation from there.

Gephardt took several slow cookers to Data Chem lab in Salt Lake City to be tested. He found that 20 percent of the cookers were leaching out measurable amounts of lead into food. When ceramic ware is heated to just 80-degrees, it releases nearly 10-times the amount of lead as a plate at room temperature. (Something to keep in mind when you heat food in the micro-wave on ceramic dishes.) Crock pots can heat up to more than 250-degrees.

Wanting additional findings, Gephardt took a crock pot to chemist Robert Aullman, who preformed the standard test established by the Food and Drug Administration for testing leaching lead. He found that the Rival slow cooker leached lead at .085 parts per million. Anything below 2.0 is considered acceptable by the FDA. (It’s important to note that lead does not leave the body easily. A build up of lead over a period of time is dangerous.)

Mr. Gephardt took his findings to Utah House Rep. Jim Matheson. Congress was looking into a proposed amendment that would force manufactures to put labels on ceramic ware to identify lead content. However, Gephardt’s investigation was reported in 2004 and, so far, no law or amendment has been put into place.

My research in to whether Rival had removed the lead from their crock pots produced conflicting information. I called Rival’s Consumer Services department (1-800-777-5452) and they confirmed that their slow cookers still contain lead. They stated that the level is below the FDA standard for lead in ceramic products.

Upon further investigation, I called Hamilton Beach (1-800-851-8900) and they assured me that their crock pots do not contain any lead or cadmium. (Cadmium is another highly toxic metal associated with zinc ores. Oil paint used by artist’s contain a lot of Cadmium and Zinc…. Cadmium Red…Cadmium Yellow… Zinc White. It’s also found in industries where ore is being processed or smelted. Ceramic can be colored with Cadmium colors.)

It’s been suggested that you can use plastic liners in your crock pot so lead doesn’t leach into your food. I personally don’t recommend doing that because plastics heated to high temperatures leach other kinds of toxins. However, Reynolds claim their liners are made from a high resin nylon which is suitable for high temperature cooking. You’ll have to be the judge on this one.

I don’t use my crock pot often, but when I do, I want to know that the food is completely safe for my family. “So long… Good-bye… Rival crock pot.”

I find it disconcerting that the FDA allows any amount of lead in products if it’s possible to manufacture them with out it. A little of this… and and little of that… here and there can amount to a lot of toxins being ingested by Americans.

I’m not convinced that the FDA always has our best interests in mind. Just look at how many drugs and products are taken off the market that have been found to be harmful… even deadly… after the FDA has put its stamp of approval on them.

Becoming aware, and taking responsibility for our own well-being is the best solution for combating toxic and lead poisoning.

Till Later
Insightful Nana

P.S. The Hamilton Beach 6 Qt. slow cooker runs about $49.99 compared to Rival’s 6 Qt. at $34.99. It looks like Hamilton Beach is a bit more expensive… but what’s $15.00 when you can have a lead free product and peace of mind.

P.S.S. If you find another crock pot that doesn’t contain lead… let me know.