EcoWaste Coalition Urges Food Safety Authorities to Ban Toxic Lead in Kitchen Utensils

Fruit grater and stripper with lead solder (above) and those without (below)

A toxics
watchdog has requested the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drugs
Administration (FDA) to look into the need of banning the use of lead in
kitchen utensils in line with the country’s effort to strengthen the food
safety regulatory system. 

The EcoWaste Coalition’s push for limits on the lead content in food contact materials
was triggered by the group’s accidental discovery of coconut and melon stripper
with soldered parts that had high levels of lead.
The handy metal stripper is used in shredding young coconut and cantaloupe into
strips for the all-time favorite thirst quenchers, especially during the hot
summer months.
“Out of plain curiosity, we screened one fruit stripper using our portable
X-Ray Fluorescence device and was surprised to see how much lead is on the
solder that bonds the windshield with the handle,” said Thony Dizon,
Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“This prompted us to buy additional strippers from kitchenware bargain retailers
in Quiapo and have them screened for lead,” he added.
Out of the 10 fruit strippers costing P20 to P80 each, seven were found to
contain lead solder in the range of 23% to 32%. The other three had no detectable lead content, indicating the availability of lead-safe fruit strippers.

According to the US FDA Food Code, “solder
and flux containing lead in excess of 0.2% may not be used as a food-contact

“Food-contact surface” means “a
surface of equipment or a utensil with which food normally comes into contact
or from which food may drain, drip, or splash,” as defined under the US Food Code.

“In line with Republic Act 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013, we urge our
health authorities to prohibit lead in food preparation and storage utensils,”
Dizon said.
R.A. 10611, whose Implementing Rules and Regulations were adopted only last
February 2015, seeks to “protect the public from food-borne and water-borne
illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated foods.”
“Banning lead in food contact materials such as kitchen tools, cooking pots, glazed
ceramic and glassware items, painted coffee mugs and other food processing and
storage equipment, will also complement the Chemical Control Order for Lead and
Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of
packaging for food and drink and for water pipes,” Dizon added. 
Lead is a toxic metal and one of the “ten chemicals of major public health
concern,” according to the World Health Organization.