Lead in Your Child's Candy


cheryl-franco-author-banner-101613 Note: resources for this blog post came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

I remember the joy of hearing the ice-cream truck song, running to get money from my mom and buying delicious candy when I was a child.

My son also knows the fun of buying and eating candy from the ice-cream truck and in small local community stores as well. I never thought, by letting him eat candy from these locations, that I could actually be doing him harm!

But recently, I found out that there may be LEAD in candy manufactured in Mexico and other countries outside the United States.

As soon as I heard about this, I was very upset because I had recently eaten candy from a street vendor myself and did not know that I had placed myself at risk for lead poisoning. I immediately devoted myself to writing this post, as well as last week’s post to remind parents about lead in their homes, to help spread the word.

This experience made me want to do something to help remind parents about the dangers of lead in this new place that you can find it – in candy. In this post, I’ll give you an overview of how lead is getting into candy and refer you to some great resources I have found that you’ll want to bookmark for later.

How Harmful is Lead?

First, I want you to know that lead is harmful. High levels of lead in your child’s bloodstream can cause irreversible.

  • Learning disabilities
  • Behavior problems
  • Mental retardation

At extremely high levels, lead may cause seizure, coma or even death.

Find Out How Much You Know

Finding out how much you know about lead is easy. Take our Lead Safety Quiz online. My bet is that you’ll be surprised about what you don’t know about lead.

How Does Lead Get Into Candy?

Lead is not intentionally added to candy. But foreign manufacturers are often not held to the same standards as candy manufacturers in the United States. Lead can find its way into candy from other countries, and has been most often found in candy from Mexico. Here’s a list of some of the ways that this can happen:

  • Candy ingredients may be exposed to lead dust during drying, storing and grinding.
  • Lead may be used in the candy wrapper paper.
  • The ink used to print the candy label wrappers may contain lead. If the ink leaches through the paper and contacts the candy, it can be eaten by your child.

You can NOT tell by looking at or tasting a candy whether it contains lead. People who sell the candies will not know if there is lead in the candy either. This means that you will have be careful about reading labels regarding the country of origin of the candy your child eats.

Be an Informed Parent

Centers for Disease Control If you’re interested in finding out more, make the Centers for Disease Control website your first stop. They always have the latest information to keep parents like you and me up to date.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration The potential for children to be exposed to lead from candy imported from Mexico and other countries has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue warnings on the availability of lead-contaminated candy and to develop tighter guidelines for manufacturers, importers, and distributors of imported candy. California Department of Public Health This page shares information about screenings and children at risk for lead poisoning.

Help Other Parents Stay Informed

  • Share this blog post with others
  • Email the URL of this blog post, or your favorite resource to other parents.
  • Spread the word on Facebook
  • Tweet the results of your Lead Safety Quiz

Remember that lead has no smell or taste and will not have immediate symptoms in your child. The best prevention is knowledge and taking extra precautions. Let me know if you have heard about this from your network and what other tips you can share for parents here.

Spread the Word