The Environmental Law Foundation recently studied almost 150 varieties of beverages and fruit snacks marketed to children and discovered that more than 75 percent of the items contained extremely high levels of lead. Some of the highest levels were found in favorite juice boxes, drink pouches and fruit cups that appear in lunchboxes all over America.
The study included apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears, peaches and fruit cocktail mixes, as well as baby foods. No one label was free from a level of lead that could cause problems and organic products were even contaminated with surprising levels of lead. The major producers of juice – Welch’s, Dole and Minute Maid – were contaminated, but in an unusual twist, many store labels and smaller brands were listed as well.
According to the ELF, 125 out of 146 items contained enough lead in a single serving to warrant a warning label under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The act, more commonly known as Prop 65, aims to keep children free from high levels of lead, which has been linked to learning disabilities and trouble with the kidneys and muscle weakness. The federal limits for lead were set almost 20 years ago, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that there is no safe level of lead exposure.
California’s attorney general, district attorneys and the manufacturers of the affected products were served with a notice of violation. The companies have 60 days to bring themselves into compliance with Prop. 65 or to place “clear and reasonable warnings” on the food packages. After 60 days, if there is no compliance and no law enforcement agency pursues prosecution, ELF will file a formal suit.
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