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Foods high in lead

In recent years the persistence of lead in food has been a constant, let us remember that it is one of the most dangerous neurotoxins known that continues to represent a threat to public health Worldwide. Recently, several cases of lead contamination have been detected in different American food products that have put the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) on high alert, pointing out that it is a serious and persistent problem, and that every Every year different foods are detected with high levels of lead and other heavy metals.

Currently, they are detected elevated levels of lead in some foods in the United States and other countries around the world, and this despite the fact that in recent decades progress has been made to reduce exposure to lead, a toxic heavy metal that can enter the body through water, air or food. Depending on the level of its intake, it can cause serious and serious health problems in humans.

The truth is that this heavy metal continues to be used in a variety of industrial products and processes, something that inevitably contributes to its continued presence in the environment and also in food products. One can cite as an example the increasing use of lead-acid batteries around the worldand the lack of strict regulations (especially in developing countries) has led to lead contamination increasing and affects a large number of countries in the world, including developed ones.

We said that lead is associated with a series of health problems and especially affects children, since exposure can cause adverse neurological and developmental effects. Exposure to this heavy metal is especially serious in Developing countries where it can be said that lead contamination is widespreadand children are at greater risk due to unfavorable socioeconomic conditions and lack of access to quality healthcare.

Globalization favors lead contamination in one country affects the consumer products of other countries, as what we indicated at the beginning of the postin the United States there have been cases of lead poisoning that are related to imported contaminated food products, we see as an example some applesauce and cinnamon compotes that were contaminated with lead that caused several dozen cases of poisoning.

The cinnamon came from Sri Lanka and was shipped to Ecuador (both countries have a lead exposure crisis), where it was ground into a powder to mix into applesauce. The resulting product was highly contaminated by lead and was shipped to the United States for sale. This is one of the many examples there are, and every year different ones are detected food products high in lead or other heavy metals like cadmium. In this sense it is worth returning to reading this analysis conducted in 2022 by Consumer Reports, where elevated levels of lead and cadmium were detected in dark chocolate made with cocoa from Peru.

Dangerous heavy metals present in food

To effectively address the problem it is necessary to carry out a international strategywhere stricter policies are put in place to regulate the use of lead, make greater efforts focused on address sources of pollution of metal, launch the adoption of alternative technologies in developing countries and provide the relevant resources to address this global problem.

Let us remember that in 2021 The European Commission announced new levels of cadmium and lead in some foods for improve food security and fight some types of cancer. In any case, we must not forget that in the case of lead, the maximum level allowed in the United States is 0.5 micrograms per kilo, while in the European Union different values ​​are established depending on the type of product and they are lower than In the US regulation, examples include 0.1 micrograms per kilo of weight in salt, 0.2 micrograms per kilo of offal product (also with variations depending on the type), 0.15 micrograms in wines. generous and liqueurs, etc.

Although here The need to carry out collaboration between governments, international organizations and the private sector is pointed out, perhaps first work should be done on a regulation that applies in all countries. As we know, Maximum allowed values ​​vary between countries, and in most cases it is for political and economic reasons, since the aim is to promote trade with third countries. In this sense and as an example, we recommend you read this post on the European Commission and its attempt to increase the level of mercury allowed in larger fish in order to promote trade.

Investment in the elimination of lead from the environment, in education and public awareness programs about the risks associated with exposure to this metal or in measures that can be taken to prevent lead contamination and mitigate its effects, are some of the points that must be taken into account in international policies and collaboration. The Fighting lead pollution is a global challenge It requires a coordinated response and can only be carried out through a joint and sustained effort in order to protect future generations.

Several researchers point out the need to carry out more studies to understand the prevalence and sources of contamination by this heavy metal in food. Likewise, it is necessary to develop more effective methods to detect and prevent contamination in the food chainpaying special attention to foods and ingredients from third countries.

Photo 1 | Gary Bembridge
Photo 2 | FDA

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