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Imported hot sauces may contain dangerous levels of lead

Hot sauces imported from Mexico have been found to contain concerning levels of lead, according to Food Safety News.

In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health, researchers tested the pH levels and lead concentration of 25 bottles of hot sauce imported from Mexico and South America. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), is believed to be the first to look into levels of lead in the popular condiment.  

Researchers discovered four Mexico-imported hot sauce products that tested above the 0.1 parts per million standard for unsafe levels of lead in candy, according to Food Safety News. As a result, the study’s authors are urging parents to take caution when giving hot sauce products to children.

“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,” a statement released by UNLV said. “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.”

The study authors are also recommending more rigorous screening be put in place for food products imported from Mexico.

“Without enforceable standards for hot sauces and condiments, manufacturers will not be encouraged to improve quality control measures designed to reduce the amounts of lead and other toxic elements before exporting,” study author Shawn Gerstenberger said.

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