The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it is aware of a problem associated with lead contamination of some Mexican candy products being sold in the United States and is suggesting that parents, care providers and other responsible individuals do not allow children to eat these products at this time.
FDA has compiled information which indicates that candies and related products that contain significant amounts of chili powder may contain higher lead levels than other types of candy, such as candy that contains predominantly sugar. Examples of chili containing products include lollipops coated with chili and powdery mixtures of salt, lemon flavor and chili seasoning sold as a snack item.
In addition, tamarind, a popular Mexican candy item, can become contaminated with lead if it is sold in poorly made glazed ceramic vessels that release lead from the glaze into the candy.
It has been a longstanding objective of the FDA to reduce, to the extent practicable, consumer exposure to lead from foods. The adverse health effects of elevated lead levels in children are well documented and can result in delayed mental and physical development and learning deficiencies.
The FDA is taking action to reduce the risk of potential exposure of children to lead from these candy products. FDA believes that contamination of chili powder may be occurring at certain steps in the manufacturing process. FDA will be working with Mexican government and industry personnel to resolve this problem, and plans to establish more stringent guidance for considering regulatory action against candy products containing lead in the near future, as announced in a letter to manufacturers, importers, and distributors of imported candy on March 25, 2004. The letter is available online at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/pbltr.html.