Study Finds Lead In Kids Drinks

By Kristie Turck •  Published 06/14/10 •  6 min read

Last updated on June 17th, 2010 at 01:50 pm

One of our wonderful readers emailed me about this over the weekend (Thanks Vanessa!) and of course I was all over it, checking it out. I’m not the first to report on it but I felt it warranted SafeMama attention. A study done by the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) revealed that a large number of juice and baby food brands, including organic brands,  exceeded levels of lead that would be dangerous for the 6 and under age set. This infuriates me beyond belief.

It infuriates me for obvious reason but mainly because of the inclusion of the brands I have grown to trust showed up on the list.  The Earth’s Best pictured here is a product I have given to my son many times. It sickens me. It’s things like this that make a parent think “I give up! Everything is toxic!” and is really discouraging. So many parents strive to find the best products, the safest products, the best food, buy organic, for our kids only to find out that the things we thought we did right were not.  Who would think a box of organic apple juice could possibly contain LEAD?!

They have published the list of products tested for lead (PDF) and listed the brands that exceeded the CA Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving and those who did not exceed it.

Update (6/15/10) This is the response I got from Earth’s Best on Facebook which is now buried by their father’s day contest submissions:

Earth’s Best: Hi Katherine, thank you for your question. Earth’s Best Organic ® juice products are safe and meet our high standards for quality. The Environmental Law Foundation (“ELF”) claims are specific to California Proposition 65 and name over 100 companies and nearly 400 products. We do not yet have information on the report’s alleged findings on our Earth’s Best Organic® Apple Juice and are currently investigating the matter.

Update (6/16/10) I encourage you, before you freak out entirely, to read the perspective of my friends at Z Recommends on this topic.  I think it’s clear that the issue is something parents are concerned about but perhaps its gotten blown out of proportion –  on purpose.  Definitely something to chew on.

I have also come to a few other realizations since the publication of the study done by ELF. One is the lack of solid information.  They make some very grand claims and provide very little information or details (to the public) about the study claiming its proprietary and legal sensitive. There are questions about what sizes, portions, containers, etc were actually tested and they also do not reveal the actual lead content results.  I have contacted ELF and of course got no response as of yet.  I assume they are busy after announcing this but I am holding out hope to get some clearer facts.

Here’s another take on it from Healthy Child Healthy World.

Apple Juices Tested that exceeded the Prop 65 lead limit:

Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice
Earth’s Best Organics Apple Juice
First Street 100% Apple Cider from concentrate
First Street Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Full Circle Organic Apple Juice
Gerber 100% Juice Apple Juice
Great Value 100% No Sugar Added Apple Juice
Hansen’s Natural Apple Juice
Kroger 100% Juice Apple Juice
Langers Apple Juice 100% Juice
Minute Maid Juice Apple – 100% Apple Juice
Motts 100% Apple Juice
O Organics Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice Not From Concentrate
Old Orchard 100% Apple Juice
Parade 100% Juice Apple
Raley’s Premium 100% Apple Juice not from Concentrate
Safeway 100% Juice Apple Cider
Safeway 100% Juice Apple Juice
Stater Bros. 100% Juice Apple Juice
Sunny Select 100% Apple Juice
Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Apple Juice, pasteurized
Tree Top 100% Juice Apple Cider
Walgreens Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Walnut Grove Market 100% Apple Juice

Grape Juices That Exceeded Prop 65 Lead Limits:

365 Everyday Value Organic 100% Juice Concord Grapes
First Street Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Gerber 100% Juice – White Grape Juice
Great Value 100% Grape Juice
Kedem Concord Grape Juice 100% pure grape juice
Kroger Grape Juice 100% Juice
Langers Grape Juice (Concord)
Langers Red Grape Juice
O Organics Organic Grape Juice from concentrate
R.W. Knudsen Just Concord Grape Juice
R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord
Raley’s 100% Grape Juice
Safeway 100% Juice Grape Juice
Safeway Organic Grape Juice
Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice
Stater Bros. 100% Juice Grape Juice
Stater Bros. 100% Juice White Grape Juice
Sunny Select 100% Grape Juice
Trader Joe’s Concord Grape Juice made from fresh pressed organic concord grapes
Tree Top 100% Juice, Grape
Valu Time Grape Drink from Concentrate
Walgreens Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Walnut Acres Organic Concord Grape
Walnut Grove Market Grape Juice
Welch’s 100% Grape Juice (from Welch’s Concord Grapes)
Welch’s 100% Red Grape Juice from Concentrate

ELF also tested packaged peaches, pears and fruit cocktail – all of which are listed in the document they published online.  (See Here)

What Do I Do Now?

I absolutely loathe posting articles like this when I don’t have a “best course of action” or “alternative” to recommend.  But really, I don’t know what the best thing is to do.  But if you are concerned, like me, I would check your juice box brands and packaged fruit against the PDF and toss any offenders.  Not worth the risk, right?

I have switched my son to filtered water in his packed lunches for camp and school for other reasons beyond this one, so I am one of the lucky ones to not have an issue but I know MANY people rely on boxed drinks and fruit for their kids.  What worries me is that they didn’t test every brand possible, even though they tested a lot.  ELF has issued a violation letter to all offending brands so hopefully measures will be taken.  I know I’ll be waiting to hear a follow up from ELF n the status of this issue and will certainly post follow up here on SafeMama.

In the meantime, I am going to be writing a few letters to the offending brands I have used in hopes that some outraged parents like myself can get these companies to do more proactive testing in areas like this.

Here is an NPR story transcript on the subject.