In my effort to raise the family a little healthier and greener one of my baby boards at Babycenter.com got me started on researching various concerns regarding things like lead in dishes, melamine dishes, etc. I will try to post what I find on each topic here once I’ve completed my research. Here are the posts I’ve put up so far:
Today I’m looking into lead in crock pots. I’ve never been a big crock pot user but everyone I know swears by them and being a full time working mother of two if it can save me time in the kitchen I’m all for it. So imagine my dismay when someone mentioned that not only do some crock pots contain lead but this is even more disturbing than lead in dishes because crock pots are on for extended periods of time with our food sitting in it.
Here’s some info I posted about lead in dishes:
I looked up the lead guidelines posted on the FDA website back in 2010 here. It mentions that lead can be present in glazes or decorations covering the surface of traditional pottery and this lead can leach into food and drink prepared, stored or served on these dishes. These lines freaked me out
“infants, young children and the developing fetus can be affected by chronic exposure to amounts of lead that may not result in obvious symptoms of lead poisoning. A child with lead poisoning may not look or act sick.Lead poisoning in children has been linked to:
- learning disabilities
- developmental delays
- lower IQ scores”
Here is some information I came across about the dangers of lead “once you have ingested lead, the FDA estimates than an adult will absorb around 11% of the lead ingested, and for kids it can range from 30% to 75%. It should also be noted that once in your system, lead hangs around for a long time. Lead’s half-life is 20 years, so that means that in twenty years from now, half of the lead that you absorb today will still be there in your body wrecking havoc on your system.” (From the Prosper Organics website)
So my main concern here is that even if the FDA regulates that only a certain amount of lead leaching is ok but that lead stays in your body for decades then it could be accumulating into toxic levels right?
Again one of the most common sites I found was the KUTV investigates article about how
“Gephardt took several slow cookers to Data Chem lab in Salt Lake City to be tested. He found that 20 percent of the cookers were leaching out measurable amounts of lead into food. When ceramic ware is heated to just 80-degrees, it releases nearly 10-times the amount of lead as a plate at room temperature. (Something to keep in mind when you heat food in the micro-wave on ceramic dishes.) Crock pots can heat up to more than 250-degrees.” (Lead Poisoning and Crock Pots)
I don’t know how many “several” was but he took one of the Rival crock pots in to be tested and found the Rival slow cooker leached lead at .085 parts per million. Anything below 2.0 is considered acceptable by the FDA. But like I mention above lead can accumulate in your system.
From what I can tell crock pots are similar to dishes in which they may contain lead but the manufacturers all say they are sealed and meet FDA lead guidelines. Of course this still means if your crock pot has a hairline crack, scratches, etc the lead could leak through and considering how long your food is in there pose a greater risk than dishes. Also there is the fact that more people are likely to keep using a crock pot that looks to have only minor damage like a chip rather than toss it and buy a new one.
One thing I found is “The Australian Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts warns that ceramic products with fractured or corroded glazing is dangerous. This corrosion is identified by a easily identified chalky-grey residue on the product that persists after washing.”(How Dangerous Is Lead in Crockpots & Dishes? | eHow.com) I know my crock pot looked like it has some sort of residue left on it no matter how much I scrub so you can bet I’m off to go check that asap.
So which crock pots do contain lead in their enamel? Apparently it hasn’t been easy to find out.
Essenergy (VitaClay): the cookware is mineral-rich and chemical-free – no lead or non-stick coatings! Meals are easy to create and a snap to clean up. (From their About page) One concern here mentioned at one site is that the clay itself might contain lead so even if they are not adding any lead it could still potentially contain lead. Not sure how accurate that is.
Proctor Silex: Does the crock contain lead? No. There is no lead or cadmium in the crock. (From their FAQs)
KitchenAid: I did an online chat with KitchenAid customer service and it looks like their crock pot is lead free:
Agnes M.: Thank you for contacting KitchenAid! My name is Agnes M.. I will be with you momentarily.
Debbie: Thank you Agnes
Agnes M.: Hello Ms. Suzuki, How can I assist you today?
Debbie : I have been searching for a slow cooker that does not contain any lead included lead enamel that is sealed and was wondering if the KitchenAid slow cooker was lead free?
Agnes M.: Yes it is.
Agnes M.: What else can I assist you with today?
Debbie : so the enamel is also lead free?
Agnes M.: Yes,
Debbie : great, thank you so much!
Agnes M.: You’re Welcome and Thank you for contacting KitchenAid. You have a good evening.
Debbie : you too
Contains Lead But Within FDA Guidelines
Rival: Several people mention calling Rival and basically being told they meet FDA guidelines which I suppose we can take to mean they do contain lead but as long as your crock pot has no cracks, crackles, etc then they are safe. Otherwise they may leach lead.
Hamilton Beach: Hamilton Beach specifications applicable to all slow cookers and their components (including the earthenware crocks) prohibits the product from containing any measurable amounts of lead. Furthermore, the factories that manufacture the earthenware crocks for Hamilton Beach are certified ceramic production facilities whose ceramic ware is deemed to satisfy FDA heavy metal requirements. Hamilton Beach takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the earthenware crocks accompanying our slow cookers provide safe and satisfactory service to our consumers. (From their website)
West Bend: The most visible surface layer of stoneware, called the glaze, is a protective coating for the vessel. Glazes for cooking vessels are designed for food contact. Glazes are inspected for maximum allowable amounts of trace elements in accordance with the United States Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines. If the glazes are chipped or cracked, the vessel should not be used.
Small areas, typically on the bottom rim, may not receive a coat of glaze. This is a normal manufacturing process. Unglazed areas, tiny pits or other cosmetic defects do not pose any unsafe food concerns. If any area of your stoneware vessel appears to be cracked, it should be replaced.
Please refer to the instruction manual included with your product for specific care and use guidelines. (From their FAQs)