Photo: Mexican Hot Sauces
A U.S. based study, concluded earlier this year, has found that four out of twenty-five bottles of hot sauce from Mexico and Latin America, sold in the U.S., are loaded with lead.
The study by University of Nevada (UNLV) looked at 25 bottles of imported hot sauce that are typically sold in ethnic grocery stories. It found that 16 percent of the sample study had lead content above what the FDA recommends as safe.
The research conclusions were just released last week and published earlier in an industry publication ‘Environmental Science and Health.’
Researchers at UNLV urge that more screening is needed on food imports from Mexico and South America. An earlier study in 2006, also from the UNLV, found lead in dozens of candies imported from Mexico and China.
Brands like El Pato Salsa Picante, Salsa Habanera and Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero showed high lead content. All these brand are manufactured in Mexico.
The study did not included any U.S. made hot sauce brands.
According to the study the implications are as follows:
There is no known safe level for lead exposure, as lead poisoning can affect almost every organ in the body and is absorbed faster by children than adults. In young children, lead poisoning has been known to cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and even seizures, comas and death in extreme cases.
Although hot sauce would not intuitively be counted amongst food products highly consumed by children, the study suggests that ethnic and cultural practices must be considered.
If hot sauce is a regular part of a child’s diet, it could contribute to unsafe levels of lead exposure, especially when combined with exposure to lead in the soil, cookware, and candies, or paint manufactured before 1978.