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Oct 25, 2009 05:22 AM

Lead in balsamic vinegar? Why is this legal?

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  1. Does it not say in the article that it is a naturally occuring substance in grapes used for balsamic and red wine vinegar? Presumably then, no lead - no balsamic. Simples

    1. it's legal for two reasons:
      1. it occurs naturally because the grapes absorb it from the soil in which they're grown - it's not added by the manufacturers, and the manufacturing process doesn't increase the levels.
      2. the level is at least 1,000 times lower than that which would be required to cause an observable effect in animals.

      mind you, i'm not saying it's *right,* and i think they could (and should) find a way to filter out the lead, but they can get away with it because unless you're drinking multiple cups of the vinegar daily, it's not really a danger.

      FWIW, if you're concerned, but don't want to give up balsamic and/or red wine vinegar, look for the "O" brand out of San Rafael. theirs is certified lead-free...

      you could also increase your dietary intake of iron, calcium and Vitamin C, which can all interfere with the body's absorption of lead.

      4 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        There is nothing out there so poisonous that our bodies can't take a little of it, nor anything so beneficial that overuse can't kill us. Lead, arsenic, mercury they are natural elements - present in some level, hopefull an astronomically low level, in almost anything around us. Now with these labelling laws, even benign amounts have to be called out, as though the bottle of Balsamic vinegar is equivalent to a pack of Marlboros.

        You want to do right by your kids, focus on the 20% of stuff that makes 80% of the difference - in shape kids eating a healthy diet, in balance, not maxing out on carbs or sugars, decent well-raised cuts of protein, and make them wear their seatbelts and sunscreen. And don't hold back on the balsamic.. its not worth putting on the radar..

        1. re: grant.cook

          I'm a mercury and arsenic poison survivor. I'll pass on food products containing lead.

          1. re: lgss

            Better shut off that tap then.. your drinking water is allowed to have up to 15 ppb (and action isn't taken until 10% of samples show that amount or higher). In fact, better seal up the house and put on a gas mask, because you take in .5 mg per day just by breathing and eating (although the WHO wants to get that down to .2mg per day). You could stay away from stuff grown in natural U.S. soils, which has about 50 ppm or you could move to Bhutan, far from any history of contaminants, but the soils there would still have 10 ppm. Fish are pretty clean, but even they contain .004 to .050 ppm. And if you get ill, better stay away from U.S. pharmaceuticals, because they usually contain up to 10 ppm.

            Delead the house if it has old paint, don't grow veggies in urban soils, push to upgrade plumbing systems in home and in urban water systems, recycle e-waste appropriately, but don't worry too much that splash of balsamic is going to drive you to an early end..

            1. re: grant.cook

              We double filter our water. House has been de-leaded. We recycle e-waste appropriately. No fish for us. I'm trying to stay as far away from US pharmaceuticals as possible. It all adds up. I've contacted TJs to find out if their balsamic vinegar is "unleaded". I'll share their response if/when I get one.

      2. Lead is in food. Lots and lots and lots of different food.

        But is the amount of lead an infinitesimal one or a harmful one? The linked report is irresponsible and incomplete. There are no numbers, no comparison of lead content between balsamic vinegar brands, no explanation of the type of balsamic, and no comparison between the lead found in balsamic and the lead found in nearly every food grown in soil.

        The author missed basic stuff. What kind of balsamic vinegar? Made where? From what? In the United States, most balsamic vinegar is wine vinegar with caramel color. Does the article mean that? Or by balsamic vinegar do we mean the real deal -- aged balsamico traditionale -- from Modena, Italy?

        For example, potatoes always have lead, and they're in a lot more households and consumed more often than balsmamic. What about a comparison between the lead in balsamic vinegar, that in potatoes, and that in a whole array of other foods?

        Specifics make all the difference. Wait till you get better data to make up your mind.

        2 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          Most of the lead "in" potatoes was found to be from the tap water in which they were cooked or from soil adhering to the skin.

          1. re: lgss

            I don't think you read the study correctly. In the boiled, mashed potatoes, the only lead detected was from the water. This is because the potatoes were peeled. In the baked potatoes, higher levels of lead -- "11 μg/kg to 56 μg/kg" -- were present in the potato skin because of soil.

            Lead is in soil but most of it is airborne. It's everywhere.