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Dec 20, 2007 06:35 PM

It's always something - lead in vinegar

I'm in the market, innocently checking out the vinegar, and see this


The Red Wine Vinegars and Balsamic Vinegars on this shelf contain lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

I never knew that.

Googling, it seems like this has been going on for a few years now. Some people think the lead is sucked up from the soil the grapes are grown in. The others say it is the manufacturling process.

If it is in the soil, wouldn't the same warning be on wine and grape juice?

This seemed a good blog about it.

I liked the conclusion which said the warning lets the consumer decide if they want to buy the product or not.

This site had some good links in response to the question about lead in vinegar

Who'd think that living dangereously might mean dressing my salad topped with mercury-laden canned tuna with lead-laced vinagrette. One would hope the lettuce doesn't have samonella ... I think I"m going back to eating chocolate cake ... with ice cream ... it might be better for my health.

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  1. I'll keep the vinegar and get rid of my Dora the Explorer toys. ;-) If you're concerned, adequate calcium and iron will lesson the absorption of lead.

    I'm more concerned about my FIL storing his XO in the Waterford decanters long term.

    9 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Actually after reading more, I'm about as concerned about the vinegar as I am about the tuna ... not very. Which was sort of the point of posting.

      It was a shocker to stumble across in the market, but I guess you would have to chug a lot of vinegar for it to be really harmful. So anyone else seeing the warning can just make up their own minds.

      I found this Washington Post article about a federal law that would pre-empt state warning about the dangers in products.

      That was a year ago and I hope the bill failed to pass. While, as the article says, there is the possibility of abuse, I'd like to know if there is some concern about a product and then make up my own mind about whether I want to buy it or not. I'm still buying tuna vinegar ... unless someone has a good reason not to. Anyone?

      1. re: rworange

        How silly is this? "Based on the Company’s tests, a person would need to consume somewhere between 1.3-2.6 cups (270-630ml) daily of the Company’s various vinegar products to reach the Proposition 65 lead level.”
        If someone - anyone! - is drinking that much vinegar a day over a long enough period of time to raise their lead levels to a dangerous level, they have a bigger problem than the lead level.
        Abusing anything can cause harm. People don't "make up their minds" based on scary misleading information. They start to make themselves crazy.

        1. re: MakingSense

          It doesn't make sense in this context for that specific item. Agreed, no one is going to drink 1 - 2 cups of vinegar for the next 20 years but there might be a product right next to it that is consumed in larger quantities that was grown in the same area. Imagine if it were bananas? Or tomatoes? It's one rule, one regulation, that is applied to all products meant for human consumption. Since there's too much stuff out there for to make individual review possible, they just get one blanket warning.

          That said, there are many places in the United States that have naturally occurring lead in the soil that is higher than the local and federal allowable guidelines...not much you can do about that so just drink your wine and be happy.

            1. re: DockPotato

              Their freeways didn't have cars running on leaded gas for years that cut through their farm country.

            2. re: sebetti

              Consuming too much of anything is bad for you - even water. Maybe there should be signs warning that eating too much of any food from any one source can be harmful. They could put that on every food item.
              Exaggerated warnings like this are crazy-making.

              1. re: MakingSense

                Honestly, I generally ignore those warnings. And you're right that they're generally overblown and overly cautious (x1000 safety factor?).
                But I also work in the environmental field. First for the good guys, currently for the (sort of) bad guys. We live in a very dirty world.

                What I worry about the most is the accumulation of so many different, bad things. That's what is going to get us in the end.

                1. re: sebetti

                  Basically it boils down to this. Some person with way too much time on their hands figured out that there is lead in vinegar. They don't follow through on the research, just started waving their hands in the air shouting "The sky is falling, the sky is falling" and a few others jumped on board. They go to the politicians who feel it's their job to micromanage out lives and BOOM, we have a proposition. A few more panicy people jump on board and it gets passed.

                  I'd love to see how many of these people who are concerned eat trans fats and other hydrogenated oil products.


                  1. re: sebetti

                    sebetti, this is how i see it, too. rain drops in a barrel. seemingly insignificant but a part of something big. i don't have the time or desire to take it all into consideration for daily living so, as with most things, i just choose my battles and cross my fingers.

        2. if you decide to buy the hype then also buy some good Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar...after living in Italy and tasting REAL Balsamic Vinegar - I pretty much only use Braggs ACV....

          1. Not another "warning." <<rolls eyes>>

            Reminds me of the warnings in the produce aisle for carrots. Liver failure. Orange skin.
            Now every other food article states the benefits of beta carotene found in carrots.

            11 Replies
            1. re: tom porc

              But wait, there's more! Isn't there something about beta carotene that is bad for people who smoked cigarettes any time in their life?

              1. re: SweetPea

                In all seriousness, there is some question about increasing your risk of ling cancer is you are a smoker and you take in large amounts of Betacarotene. But these are not amounts you get in a regular diet, this occurs if you take a lot of supplements with high dose betacarotene. You'd have to eat a really large amount of carrots every day (we are talking pounds of them) to incur this risk. There is also a rick of Vitamin A toxicity in general from eating pounds and pounds of carrots everyday. I can't imagine how one could eat this many carrots.

                On a side note: I just had a thought. How much preservatives/aditives does one get by winning the Nathan's hot dog eating contest? I'm not sure I want to know.

                1. re: moh

                  How much sugar does one get winning a pie eating contest??


                  1. re: moh

                    I believe beta carotene is stored in the skin thereby the orange/yellow skin. The liver will then use it to produce vitamin A when necessary so maybe scientists have found that beta carotene is not as toxic as straight mega dose vit A supplements.
                    My thoughts only.

                    1. re: moh

                      But lets say you have a juicer. Lots of carrots make a little glass of juice. Not countering, just interested.

                      1. re: SweetPea

                        Honestly, if someone is smoking a lot, how concerned will he/she be about eating too many carrots? It would be like a biker not wearing a helmet and being concerned about getting a sunburn as a result.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Not "is", but "did" and I'm not clear on the amount or duration. The issue is supposedly revelant even if one smoked many, many years ago.

                          1. re: SweetPea

                            Re: High dose betacarotene and increased risk of lung cancer in smokers:

                            I can only tell you what I know from the ophthalmology point of view. We now recommend the use of high dose vitamins for certain patients at risk for wet macular degeneration. One of the vitamins is betacarotene (25,000 IU per day). In the big ophthalmology study looking at the effects of antioxidants on macular degeneration, no significant effect of betacarotene on lung cancer risk in smokers was seen. However, due to cancer studies that seemed to show a link between increased risk of lung cancer in smokers who took high doses of betacarotene, we now recommend that smokers or recent ex-smokers avoid high dose betacarotene. There is significant debate about how long you have to stop smoking before your lung cancer risk becomes closer to that of a non-smoker. We recommend a minimum of one year of non-smoking, and some people say you need to stop smoking for 5-10 years before your risk drops. There is no definitive answer. Bottom line is, if I were a smoker or a recent smoker, I wouldn't risk the high dose betacarotene at this time. But if you stop smoking completely, there is immediate health benefit, and so we recommend stopping smoking no matter how many years you have smoked. BTW, smoking itself is a significant risk factor for macular degeneration (a blinding eye condition), and taking betacarotene is a drop in the bucket compared to stopping smoking. Much better to never eat another carrot than to continue to smoke....

                            As for the number of carrots one would have to eat to get 25,000 IU of betacarotene, I'd have to leave that to a nutritionist (Any out there? Or have they been banned from this site?). But my understanding is that it is quite a lot of carrots. It is true that if you drink several litres of carrot juice, you are taking in a lot of carrots. But I'm not sure how much is the upper limit.

                            1. re: SweetPea

                              Okay, that makes sense. These might be helpful for you since there are many vegetables that are high in beta carotene. But, this is probably a good question to bring up to your doctor or a dietician.




                              1. re: chowser

                                Great sites chowser, they were very informative. Who would have thought that liver had so much vitamin A? And who knew carrots had that much vitamin A? Well once again, the key seems to be "everything in moderation".

                    2. jfood views this one as a positive. he started substituting vinegar for mayo on his sandwiches as a healthy alternative.

                      Can he say "Pass the Hellman's?"

                      Jfood is with Tom Porc on this one, roll the eyes baby. And no he did not cotract cancer from leisure suits either.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: jfood

                        ah, leisure suits, crimes of fashion. glad you weren't adversely affected but many of us definitely saw an improvement in our environments once they left the scene. ;)

                        i cannot resist hellman's if there are turkey leftovers in the house. must have it.

                        1. re: fern

                          mix half hellman's/half heinz ketchup. some leftover turkey a little cole slaw and onto some good bread. Aaaaaah.

                          1. re: jfood

                            oh, mmmmm. will have to try that.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Good plan but I think I'd go with mustard instead of ketchup. The spicier the better too.


                        2. I guess the chinese are making vinegar as well as toys now... ; - )

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: swsidejim

                            You forgot to add, "Try the veal."