85% of Kids' Drinks, Snacks Could Contain High Levels of Lead | Jasmin Malik Chua | 07/17/10

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Another day, another "uh oh." The latest kerfuffle? Quantities of lead in bottled juice, juice boxes, and packaged fruit could exceed federal limits for the lunchbox-toting set, according to the Environmental Law Foundation. The Bay Area-based environmental nonprofit, which enlisted the aid of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified lab in Berkeley, tested nearly 400 samples from 150 branded products marketed to children, including apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (including baby food), and fruit cocktail mixes. The alarming results: 125 out of 146 products--or more than 85%--contained enough lead in a single serving to warrant a warning label under California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Prop. 65.

More troubling, perhaps, is the fact that the results tar both organic and conventional products: Earth's Best Organic, 365 Everyday Value Organic, Trader Joe's, and Walnut Acres get as fair of a shake as Welch's, Minute Maid, Gerber, Del Monte, and Dole. Plus, most scientists concur that no safe level of exposure to lead exists, especially when it comes to babies and children.

ELF has dispatched notices to law-enforcement officials, including California's attorney-general, district attorneys, and the affected manufacturers, retailers, and distributors. The notices start a clock for the companies to either bring themselves into compliance with Prop. 65 or to place "clear and reasonable warnings" on the food packages. If, at the end of 60 days, no law enforcement agency pursues prosecution, ELF will file a formal suit.

Until then, we'll be squeezing our own fruit here at Inhabitots HQ. And chugging plenty of water.


1. 365 Everyday Value Organic 100% Juice Concord Grapes
2. Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice
3. Best Yet Bartlett Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup
4. Best Yet Chunky Mixed Fruit in Pear Juice
5. Best Yet Yellow Cling Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup
6. Chef's Review Fruit Cocktail
7. Del Monte 100% Juice Fruit Cocktail
8. Del Monte Chunky Mixed Fruit in 100% Juice (peach, pear, grape, etc.)
9. Del Monte Diced Pears in Light Syrup

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