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4 Imported Hot Sauces Have Excessive Lead: Study


Hot sauces sold in the U.S. have been found to contain concentrations of lead that exceed the FDA's standards, according to a new study from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Researchers examined 25 brands from Mexico and South America, and determined that four of them contain more lead than the FDA’s 0.1 parts-per-million standard allows for in candy and dried fruit.

The four sauces are made by companies in Mexico and exported to the U.S.:

  • Salsa Chamoy
  • El Pato
  • Bufalo Salsa Clasica
  • Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero

One of the sauces, El Pato, is made in Mexico and distributed by Los Angeles-based Walker Foods, Inc., the company's president and CEO told NBC4 Wednesday.

Researchers are calling on the FDA and USDA to establish standard guidelines for products imported from Mexico, including hot sauces.

“Without enforceable standards for hot sauces and condiments, manufacturers will not be encouraged to improve quality control measures designed to reduce the amounts of lead and other toxic elements before exporting," Shawn Gerstenberge, a UNLV researcher, said in a news release issued July 15 titled "Study: The Hidden Dangers of Hot Sauce."

The results of the study were published in the scientific journal Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B.

Though the FDA has set some standards for lead in food, the study notes there is no known safe level of lead exposure.

Lead, a toxic metal, is commonly found in homes and can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure in adults. Children exposed to lead may suffer from learning disabilities or delayed development, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect that El Pato’s hot sauce is made in Mexico, then exported to and distributed from Los Angeles-based Walker Foods Inc., said Robert Walker, president and CEO of Walker Foods Inc.

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Photo Credit: University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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