Oh Boy! Now they’ve Found Lead in Kids’ Fruit Juice/Products

A California non-profit, Environmental Law Foundation, sent some baby and kids’ fruit juice and products to a government approved lab for toxic substance testing. Guess what they found?

A surprisingly large number of samples, from both from national and store brands, contained lead above a maximum allowed level of 0.5 microgram per serving.

398 samples from 146 different brands were tested. Products tested were apple and grape juice, packaged pears and peaches, and fruit cocktail.

Brands that tested positive for lead include Beech-nut, Gerber, Earth’s Best Organics, Dole, Del-Monte, Kroger, Safeway, Trader Joe’s Certified Organic, and others. A full list is here [PDF].

What you need to know:

According to ELF’s press release [PDF]:

Scientists agree that there is no safe level of exposure to lead. Lead accumulates in
the body from multiple exposures over time and from multiple sources. According
to Dr. Callahan, “Lead exposure among children is a particular concern because
their developing bodies absorb lead at a higher rate and because children are
particularly sensitive to lead’s toxic effects, including decreased I.Q.” Lead
exposure also represents a heightened risk among pregnant and nursing women
because lead passes from the mother to the developing fetus or infant.

The problem is, nobody’s quite sure where the lead is coming from. Is it present in the fruit itself, or added unintentionally somewhere along the manufacturing process? Organic and conventional brands were equally hit.

ELF has sent notices to all the manufacturers. Let’s wait and see what they say.

According to NPR, the FDA would not comment on the foundation’s findings, though a spokesman confirmed that the federal limits for lead were last updated nearly two decades ago. In the meantime, many scientists, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, now say that there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

What to do at the supermarket:

We recommend no fruit juice for many other reasons beside this lead discovery. Kids should drink water. Fruit should be consumed closest to its natural form. While packaged fruit products do provide some benefits, they are often jacked up with added sugar. Kids don’t need it.

  • http://the50besthealthblogs.blogspot.com/ The 50 Best Health Blogs

    “Fruit should be consumed closest to its natural form. While packaged fruit products do provide some benefits, they are often jacked up with added sugar”

    That’s good advice. Years ago, I bragged to my primary care physician about all the vegetable and fruit juices I was drinking. I was surprised when she scolded me, explaining that the juices lost all the fiber, but still had all the sugars.

    I drink very little juice these days. My drink of choice now is green tea.

    Jim Purdy

  • Ed Johnson

    Don’t mean to burst your bubble, but being a student of toxicology, I have read how tea is far more problematic than fruit juices when it comes to lead…

    Sorry this is not the most accessible link (I think the original article is in Chinese), but the title speaks volumes: “The Problem of Lead Pollution in Tea Leaves”


    More info here:

    What folks need to understand is that (if you look hard enough), everything is in everything. Yes, there is Uranium in your pillow and Plutonium in your tap water. What is important is the AMOUNTS. This is the first lesson in Toxicology 101 – “Everything is a poison – it is the dose that makes the poison”.

    The above refers to Califormia’s Prop 65 limits (0.5 ug/serving – roughly 2 parts per billion). The EPA maximum tolerance in drinking water is 15 parts per billion (but for some reason municipal water is exempt from CA Prop 65). I’m sure the folks at ELF are well intentioned, but this is unnecessarily alarmist and unfair – as is the lead tolerance in Prop 65. People drink, bathe and cook with drinking water – meanwhile, you should only be having a serving or two of fruit juice a day – Jim is right – the sugar content of juice can be quite high

  • Ed Johnson

    Here’s a better link:


    In this report, the concentrations of lead in tea leaves are in the ppm range (l000 fold higher than ppb range for fruit juices). Now of course, no one eats pure lea leaves, but…..2 grams of green tea in a tea bag would contain approx 2 ug of lead according to this report – this equates to 4 times the Prop 65 maximum allowed level. Unfair, no?

  • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

    @Ed – thanks for the information provided. Kids don’t drink so much tea though. Do you have information on lead levels in tap water?

  • Ed Johnson

    Sure. Municipal water testing results are generally available on-line – so people can check their own water sources. In California, you can find some test reslts here: (http://yosemite.epa.gov/ogwdw/ccr.nsf/California!OpenView&Start=88)

    Web searches can bring up data on a state by state basis.

    Here’s what the EPA has to say about it (from http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw000/lead/lead1.html):
    Q: How much lead is too much?

    A: Federal standards initially limited the amount of lead in water to 50 parts per billion (ppb). In light of new health and exposure data, EPA has set an action level of 15 ppb. If tests show that the level of lead in your household water is in the area of 15 ppb or higher, it is advisable – especially if there are young children in the home – to reduce the lead level in your tap water as much as possible. (EPA estimates that more than 40 million U.S. residents use water that can contain lead in excess of 15 ppb.) Note: One ppb is equal to 1.0 microgram per liter (µg/1) or 0.001 milligram per liter (mg/1).

  • http://lifewithnature.com veronica (lifewithnature)

    What’s the most up upsetting is that many organic brands have been tested positive. Most people would think that buying organic would mean toxins free (even if it’s not always the case). Of course, since even natural fruit juices are high in sugar and low in fibers, it’s always better to eat whole fruits than fruit juices. It would be very interesting to find where the lead comes from. This reminds me the importance of supporting our liver with whole food so it can better eliminate the toxins and heavy metals like lead.

    Thanks for this great post!

  • Sarah P

    Buy a juicer, buy organic fruits, take the time to make it safer for your children.

  • http://www.consumethisfirst.com cat delett

    This is great information, both in the original post and in the comments. What’s concerning to me is that many people give their kids a lot of apple juice, especially when the children are very young. There are whole lines of juices marketed just to small children, first juices and Motts for Tots. Lead might also be in tea and drinking water, but this is one more source to be aware of.

    I did note, however, that the child in the photo is drinking Apple and Eve, but I didn’t see that brand on the list. Did I miss it?

  • http://www.austinspersonalassistant.com Hannah’s Mommy

    Hey guys, I found this site with a list of 125 juices and canned fruits that were found with lead from this test.


    My kiddo drinks Mott’s for Tots but I think i’m buying me a juicer and make her homemade juices.

  • http://www.wflcenter.wordpress.com Leslie

    What’s important about this is the fact that consumers have a right to know and it is then their decision to drink or give their kids these fruit juices. It’s the absence of information that is most concerning when these studies come up. We have a right to know what the findings are, educate ourselves and make our own decisions about our health and the health of our families

  • Dan

    Do you guys eat anything. Obviously many of the foods available at the supermarket contain items of questionable desirability. But really, suggesting that kids should only drink water? Yeah, they should. But really, c’mon. They should also be perfect, quiet, and always well-behaved. And happy and content. I would love to follow most of you around and see you how what you preach relates to what you eat.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

      @Dan you are absolutely right. It IS very difficult to have your kids drink only water. First, let’s agree that this is the ideal. Second, let’s see how close we can reach this goal without screwing up our sanity or theirs.
      By putting our head in the sand and ignoring the fact that there is so much crap out there, we are doing more long term damage to our children than good.
      Each family should find the right balance between convenience, health, and happiness.
      Fooducate’s goal is to provide you the information so you can make decisions based on facts, not marketing materials from the industry.
      GOOD LUCK!!!