Monday, August 07, 2006

Balsamic Vinegar has lead...

So this is the kind of stuff that's on my mind while here in sunny Cali. I was a little amazed to see this sign afixed to a shelf containing, among others, Newman's Own balsamic vinegar (sniff!) Obviously this needs to get looked into when I get back.

But again, makes sense to always minimize your exposure to lead and other toxic crap, so get rid of that Anna Anaconda lunchbox for starters (and don't lick your hands after you've touched it)!

One has to admire California's Proposition 65, which mandates that the consumer be informed of EXACTLY WHAT'S IN things you eat, breathe, etc. And the news ain't pretty.

Sending good vibes from the left coast.

31 comments:

Miranda said...

Lead in Newman's Own????? How does lead get into wine vinegar? And why is it legal to sell lead laden foodstuffs? Aiyiyi

Green Fertility Marie said...

Hiya Miranda,

I dunno...I suspect its in the casks? But I have an email and letter in to Newman's to ask...

And yes, I think it's legal...only in CA you know it's in there. Ugggghhhhh.

Anonymous said...

What? Balsamic? This is one of the more depressing possibly toxic food discoveries... I can imagine a life with little sugar, milk, cheese, even night shade vegetables, but ixnay on the balsamic? I'm depressed...

Jon said...

They say the lead gets into the grapes from the soil while they are growing. In California that alone doesn't require labeling, unless the manufacturing process somehow concentrates or increases the lead. Regardless not all of the balsamics have trace lead, but they have to prove it to the state of California otherwise they get labeled as containing lead. Benefit of the doubt goes to the consumer in this case.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/02/25/MNGIK57OJ11.DTL

Green Fertility Marie said...

That is so very helpful, Joh, thanks! So are there these labels on grape juice? Grape jelly? Wine??? Just depressing how toxic everything is...

Anonymous said...

i know that the wording of california prop 65 labeling can be misleading. i'm an acupuncturist, and the chinese herbs that we import are all labeled with prop 65 warnings because they are imported and there are no federal standards as of now for testing them for toxicity, so california labels them all with prop 65, even though many companies test the products rigorously by australian gmp standards and certify them free of heavy metals, pesticides and other toxins. so a prop 65 label should say that the product MAY contain lead or other toxins.

Green Fertility Marie said...

Thanks for the comment; the research I've done suggets that ALL balsamic vinegar has some lead due to lead in the soil...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I sell balsamic and wine vinegars at california farmer's markets. We make it ourselves and age it for at least 6 years. There is no point in our production of the vinegar where it would come into contact with lead.

This leads me to surmise that if there is lead occuring in vinegars, balsamic or otherwise, it is coming from the soil. And if it is coming from the soil, then that means that there is also lead in your wines. Obviously with variation amongst wineries. Furthermore, though the grape juice is cooked down almost 50% to start the production, you only use a small amount at a time. Which means that if you are a wine drinker, even a casual one, and grapes absorb lead from the soil, you have more to worry about from that occasional glass of wine, than the random tablespoon of vinegar. Yet we don't hear about that.


I find the lead-tainted mexican candies to be more worrisome.

Anonymous said...

I need to point out, as a manufacturer of balsamic vinegar, that yes, many true balsamics contain lead but it is in such small amounts that you would have to drink bottles and bottles to receive any negative effects.

In addition, the wonderful state of California has done nothing with red wines, which obviously are also from grapes in soil that contains lead. And WINE (an economic waterfall for California) is consumed much more heavily than BALSAMIC VINEGAR!!!

Food for thought....

Anonymous said...

I have recently discovered I have an unusually -and dangerously high lead count. This had me and my doctor baffled. At least until yesterday when I saw the prop 65 warning at the market.
I am a big salad eater (have been for 20 years) These salads have been dresses mostly with basalmic! I am very glad to see the word getting out. I just wish I had known this sooner.

Green Fertility Marie said...

Better late than never--you are improving your health as we speak. Good luck!

cathy said...

Some important things to remember. While Prop. 65 is useful in educating customers to some dangerous materials in products, it does not inform you that there is dangerous or harmful amount in the product, and thus you have to do a lot of research to see if the product might actually be harmful to you. Lead is a natural element that comes from the earth, it is unhealthy when too large amounts of it accumulate in your body. It is very easy to get your lead tested at your doctor, to see if you should be worried about it. In my personal experience lead paint is the most dangerous source to most children and adults, it's easy to consume it anytime you remodel, anything on the inside or outside an older home (or refinish old furniture). Most dust produced during a demo is loaded with lead paint, you breath it and eat it as it gets on clothing, tracked into carpets, and if you have pets they are covered in it. This exposes you to so much more lead than you are likely find in products that you use. If you have sanded the exterior of your older home then it's likely the soil on the exterior of your home is very contaminated and every time you walk on it you track it inside. What we need to know for things like vinegar is how much lead in parts per million it contains. You then can figure out if it is something you should limit consumption of, and in the mean time, watch out for lead paint.

Robin said...

I am so bummed about this. I was surprised to see the posting when I went to pick out a new bottle of balsamic vinegar - What?? Lead... Hence, I did not make a purchase.

I love balsamic - it is such a wonderful flavor and so great in sooooo many foods. Especially wonderful for those of us who are on low salt diets - it really adds flavor.

I'm trying to find balsamic that does not contain lead -but, have not seen anything via search engines.

Anyone found any yet? Please do share...

Robin
http://www.firedupcareers.com

Green Fertility Marie said...

Me neither, unfortunately. As a society we can't keep contaminating all our food, water, and air!

Anonymous said...

Ok, the CA Prop65 warnings are a bit overzealous. The FDA has set standards that must be met and when products meet these standards they are considered safe. However, CA has said that if ANY lead or cadmium is in their product it must be labeled with this warning that sounds like it's a horrible poison. So even though an item has passed FDA testing, it still may fail CA prop65 testing. OR if you don't have the $ or the ability to test, you have to label your product with this ominous warning. So the federal govt deams the product safe but CA says ANY amount must be reported. It ends up being just a big $ maker for CA because they fine companies BIG $ for not meeting their standards and not labeling, even though their standards are probably much higher than necessary.

Shay said...

Is there any information regarding the amounts of lead in the different brands of balsamic vinegar? If we still choose to partake, at least we can select the brand with the lowest quantity of lead.

Green Fertility Marie said...

No, I've checked into it; it just mostly states that it could have unsafe quantities of lead. Unless the mfr does its own testing (like some cod liver oil places do) it's anyone's guess.

Green Fertility Marie said...

No, I've checked into it; it just mostly states that it could have unsafe quantities of lead. Unless the mfr does its own testing (like some cod liver oil places do) it's anyone's guess.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked, my friend told me that because I'm pregnant I should not eat balsamic vinegar or olive oil because the lead could harm the fetus, but up until now I hadn't heard anything about it, and thought I was being healthy by having my salads with oil and vinegar. I'm really sad about this and now worried about my baby....

Green Fertility Marie said...

Some have more than others, so maybe you just got low concentrations, but you know to stop now...sending you good wishes. Stop back at the blog for the most up to date health info (I'm a journalist so I have access to the stories before they come out)

Anonymous said...

O Olive Oil out of San Rafael Caliifornia has begun making some excellent California Balsamics that are certified lead free. Our family has fallen in love with them. My research led me to believe that the Italian balsamics may be picking up lead from the old lead pipes in their systems. The amount alarmed us as we have small children that love salads so we began our search and found this great company that makes them.

Green Fertility Marie said...

Thanks for the tip!!!

Yoli said...

Does anyone know where I can buy that San Rafael certified lead-free Balsamic vinegar?

Green Fertility Marie said...

I'm looking into it...

Anonymous said...

O Olive Oil is in San Rafael, CA. I just ordered a case for my family over the phone. (I had ordered a bottle and it was delicious!) They may also have it on their website www.ooliveoil.com but I haven't check it out there as the California Balsamics from this little company appear to be fairly new. The nice customer service guy said they produce a white balsamic and something called port-balsamic as well. Haven't tried these though. Anyway looks like we don't have to wait for Italy to start cleaning up the lead mess. Has anyone been following the extra virgin olive oil scandal in Italy right now? Yucck!!

Anonymous said...

I bought some O vinegars. It was either at Trader Joes or Cost Plus World Market in San Diego, CA. I think it was Cost Plus.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what Ca agency does the testing for lead in vinegar?

Anonymous said...

unfortunatley it is the past and present practices of the farmers that play a major role in polluting the land,water and air of our enviornment and contaminating our food sources.

Anonymous said...

There is an O ("O" for organic)brand that is carried by Safeway grocery stores.I'll be checking the balsamic next time Im there.

Anonymous said...

You're all nutz!!! Just living in CA is toxic and causes cancer. You people in CA have way too much time on your hands!

Roger, Gone Green said...

Dear Out of State Anonymous:

Nuts are good for you, as is fruit. Lead is not. Sorry your state thinks you don't need to know about lead in your food.

Shrug.

In any case, the "O" Olive Oil folks have a "California" style balsamic vinager which, according to them, has 30 times less lead than the prop 65 threshhold -- which means even it still has some . . .

http://www.ooliveoil.com/product_winevin.php?n=O%20california%20balsamic%20vinegar

However, their website suggests that it is italian vinagers that are the big ofenders.

The "O Organics" at several major supermarkets (Safeway, Vons) appears to be a different (house) brand . . .