Oakland group finds lead in lots of plum, ginger candies

August 7, 2012 7:42:39 PM PDT
Testing conducted by an Oakland-based environmental group found lead levels in some plum and ginger candies up to 100 times above legal limits.

We've done numerous stories over the years about lead in toys, jewelry, and school products. Lead can slow the development of brain and be harmful to pregnant women and unborn children. But these latest findings by the Center For Environmental Health could take concerns to the next level -- a food product we ingest.

"I guess I was kind of surprised. I've had those candies before," said Mabel Lam of San Jose.

Reaction to today's warning was swift on the streets of Oakland's Chinatown. Fourteen of some 20 candies imported from overseas, but purchased by the Center For Environmental Health in Bay Area supermarkets tested above legal safety limits established by the state. The center claims one tested 100 times above the legal limit.

"Consider a child or pregnant women who eats this candy. A single serving of this candy puts them at nearly 100 times over the safety standard for lead exposure," said Christine Cordero from the Center For Environmental Health.

The findings have grabbed the attention of Alameda County health officials.

"To have something that children actually put in their mouth and eat have lead is just really unacceptable," said Julie Twichell from Alameda County.

This discovery comes after state health officials announced the voluntary recall of one plum candy variety last month.

"But our findings of dangerous lead levels in 14 other plum and ginger candy products show that the problem is much more widespread," said Cordero.

The candies were purchased at Lucky, 99 Ranch Market, Lion Supermarket, San Pablo, and Marina. Marina told us it's already pulled the candy off its shelves. Lucky also told us the candy is no longer being sold. The other three did not get to back to us before deadline. The Center of Environmental Health has filed suit against all five supermarkets and three distributors in an effort to gain a voluntary recall.

"We're worried enough about it that we're recommending that people stay away from these candies until we can get this problem taken care of," said Carolyn Cox from the Center for Environmental Health.

All the candies were imported from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

"This is really shocking that lead can go into the plum and ginger candy and it can send it out to the public," said Christopher Duong of Alameda.

"I wouldn't put it in my body," said Shannon Gazay of Oakland.

Researchers don't know how lead is getting into the candy, but suspect it is coming from lead particles in the air or lead paint at the factory. We have a list of candies that were tested and the results.


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