Definition

Lead is a toxic metal that can occur in trace amounts in the food stream. Outside of this, sources include environmental (air, dirt, dust), occupational, and incidental exposure (lead-containing paints, ceramics, and crystalware).

Health considerations

There are significant negative health effects with acute and chronic exposure to lead. Lead poisoning can cause nerve damage, hearing and vision impairment, reproductive problems, organ damage, and poor muscle coordination, among other systemic effects. Long-term effects are particularly concerning as lead takes between months and years to leave the body. This is especially concerning for pregnant women, as lead stored in the bones during earlier exposure may be freed during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and can transfer to the baby in-utero or through breast milk, damaging fetal development, including the developing brain.

Keep in mind

While lead is highly monitored, consumers should make informed decisions when incorporating certain foods in their diet.

May be found in

Meat, particularly organ meat. Trace amounts in grain and dairy products, fruits and vegetables.

References

Health Canada
EFSA
Food Navigator
Food Standards Agency
EUROPA

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