High lead levels in chewing gum force recall

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Confectionery, Chewing gum, Us food and drug administration, Us

Findings by the US authorities indicating elevated levels of lead in a chewing gum product has led to a recall of the gum by US confectionery firm Candy Dynamics.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem, but the company said that the voluntary recall was a precautionary measure against any health risks associated with lead poisoning.

A recent test performed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that a certain shipment of the company’s brand Toxic Waste Short Circuits​ bubble gum contained elevated levels - 0.189 parts per million (ppm) - of lead that the agency said could potentially “cause health problems, particularly for infants, small children, and pregnant women”

The FDA tolerance for lead is 0.1 ppm.

The confectioenry company said that the recalled product, which was imported from Pakistan, was distributed between 4 January 2011 until 18 March 2011 throughout the US in retail stores and through mail orders.

The product was also distributed in limited quantities into Canada and Switzerland, it added.

Metals and other elements can be present in food either naturally, as a result of human activities, such as farming, industry or car exhausts, from contamination during manufacture/processing and storage, or by direct addition.

Neil Ward, professor of chemistry at the UK’s University of Surrey, following on from research reported in 2009, said that there was evidence that some trace elements can contribute to aggressive or anti-social behaviour:

He said that lead has been linked to anti-social behaviour, partly because it contributes to nutrient depletion.

“Lead acts as an anti-nutrient, hindering the utilisation of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1. High lead levels have been linked to a reduction in IQ, negative classroom behaviour ratings by teachers, juvenile delinquency and increased violent behaviour,”​ claims Ward.

And he cited studies in this regard by Needleman et al., ​which appeared in the New England journal of Medicine, JAMA and Neurotoxic Teratology in 1990, 1996 and 2002 respectively.

Related topics: Regulation

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