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Terre d'umbria lead content

I was in TJ Maxx last week and picked up a 4 quart oval covered baker made in Italy by Terre D'Umbria for $20. [The LC model is $90] Following its instructions, I soaked it in hot soapy water and then put in dishwasher before first use. I decided to use it for no-knead bread. I pre-heated the baker and was removing it to place the dough and noticed a white powdery substance on the outside of the lid. The inside of the lid was as was the inside of the baker, clean. Long story short, a web search informed me that that substance on the outside of the lid was undoubtedly -- lead -- leaching from the glaze. Luckily none of it touched my bread which was encased in two layers of parchment. I am returning this to TJ Maxx and have contacted them to remove this product from their shelves. Has anyone else had this issue?

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  1. i have just purchased several pieces in the orange glaze from TJ Maxx and was really looking forward to using these nut since reading your post I am going to be returning all of them tomorrow

    1. Hi... I just bought a lead kit from Home Depot & tested the pieces I bought before I returned them & the test came back negative. Can you tell me which color you bought? I had purchased the orange ones & followed the instruction for washing them & then I placed a few pieces in the oven & did not see any powder substance.

      4 Replies
      1. re: pansy

        I'd be interested to know if the issue is with glaze color and not all De Silva products. After reading Paula Wolfert's "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking" cover to cover, I was tempted by a bright orange cazuela. She suggested that modern earthenware/stoneware is carefully regulated and should be safe (and here I thought being made in Italy was practically a letter of recommendation); but I'm not cooking with it until I buy a lead testing kit.

        1. re: whiskeyhead

          Modern earthware cookware sold in US should be carefully regulated. California has the toughest regulation in term of lead. However, it does not exclude decorated earthware. Lead is particularly harmful to children. I would be very surprised if these earthware has such a high level of lead.

          1. re: whiskeyhead

            I checked a few other TJ Maxx stores (in CT)--all of which carried at least a few pieces of Terre D'Umbria. Lots of covered casseroles--all red, including the interior/cooking surface, whereas the orange and brown pieces have a terra cotta-colored interior (glazed, not natural). I'm still dumbfounded by the white powder. If it's imported to the US it *should* not contain lead, but that doesn't mean it can't happen.

            Just to play devil's advocate, could the white residue be from the dishwasher? Apparently there's a salt additive in some cleaning tabs that can do this.

            1. re: whiskeyhead

              I recently purchased a few pieces (bowls/casserole ) of Terre D'Umbria from TJMAX. After purchasing these items, I found this link stating that these products may contain lead. So I contacted TJMAX and the Italian Trade Commission based on this. The Italian Trade Commission contacted the manufacturer De Silva and here is their response.

              We have received an email back from the Italian manufacturer De Silva. They have assured us that they test their products daily for lead and cadmium specifically because the products come in contact with food.
              They do recommend to wash the bowls thoroughly after usage, not because they contain lead, but because terracotta is a material which absorbs food odor very quickly.
              If you still do not feel safe, however, please proceed as you feel comfortable. Should you have any other questions regarding this or any Italian products, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hope that you enjoy the bowls you have purchased.

              Best Regards,
              Italian Trade Commission - Atlanta
              Tel: 404-525-0660

        2. Coming from Europe I would be skeptical that there is lead in the glaze. The EU has some of the most strict chemical regulations and the use of lead in other forms has long been baned. On the other hand, had it come from China, there would be no surprise. Before a general panic is started it would sure be interesting to have that white powder analized to see what it is. I'm not an expert, but I would be surprised if lead leaches out in the drying cycle of the dishwasher to the extent it would leave a powder residue. Unless it was properly tested, I don't think you can make a determination by just a web search.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mikie

            I heard about the lead content in stoneware dishes from China, so i got rid of most. I started picking up Le Creuset because i thought it was all made in France. I bought a really expensive baker from Amazon and when it came there was a sticker that said made in Thailand. Nowhere on the site does it say anything about the creation process. And of course when you call LC, the line is busy and sends you to voicemail. I can't find anything anywhere about the enameled stoneware bakers, and to me if you don't have a disclaimer, then anything goes and you can't hold them to it. Does anyone know about the LC bakers? If you are paying that kind of money should you expect they are lead free? And what is the difference with enameled? Like i said, can't find anything on the LC website.

            1. re: pjpgreen

              Every item on the Le Creuset website lists a country of origin. It's right there, below the warranty, on the item info page.

              To be sure, it doesn't list the composition of the stoneware, or the cast iron, but I know of no company that does that.

              EDIT - Oh, hell. Old thread, never mind.

            2. re: mikie

              I wonder if, in fact, the lead content is why the product is being sold in discount stores in the USA?

              1. re: crayonscoobydoo

                Le Creuset, Staub and All-Clad appear more often at TJMaxx than these Italian ceramics. Of late I'm seeing an unusual concentration of French copper pans.

                My impression is that stores like this sell clearance, last season, over stock, and other things to don't sell well enough in other US stores. There's no indication that they import items from Europe specifically for sale at discount prices.

              2. I know this is an older thread but I just bought a Terre D'Umbria piece at TJ Maxx last week. It looks kind of like a large onion soup bowl, with a long sturdy handle on one side. It is bright yellow with a shiny glazed orangey terra cotta color interior. The bottom is unglazed terra cotta. It is marked "Made in Italy."

                Anyone have an update on whether the Terre D'Umbria products contain lead? I bought the bowl before seeing this thread, but I'm sure I could return it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: goodeatsgal

                  I have a few of these terre d'umbra pieces as well...in RED. I am not sure what the technical term is but terra cotta "breathes".

                  I put some water and a little baking soda in one of these pots the other night. The next day the outside of it was covered with white crystalline looking stuff. It had migrated from the inside to the outside of the vessel just as if it weren't solid. This is what I jean by "breathing".

                2. Dear Sirs,
                  We are the producers of the Terre d'Umbria earthenwares.
                  We would like to reply directly to the various messages written into this blog.
                  In our opinion it is not correct to put these negatives information if a person does not know the real main characteristics of our ceramicware products.
                  In fact we would like to say that our products are continuously tested also by the American Fda and they are absolutely safe for cooking and serving foods.
                  Please understand that the only tip we always advice is about the washing and drying way since due to the porosity of the material that absorbs the foods odour it is possible to prevent the formation of the bad smell release thanks to the dishwasher ofr an accurate washing and drying of the material.However we rest at our customers' disposal for every doubt they may need.

                  Best regards

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DeSilvaceramiche

                    Hii ,
                    I love your product. I would like to purchase 12 more of the red bowls that I purchased at TJMaxx.
                    Where do I buy these please?

                  2. I also just bought a small bowl (onion soup type) and after reading the 2 replies of De SIlva, I am not comfortable with the way they answered; evading the question,e .g. "We test daily for lead" and that the reason that the dish is washed is because of its porosity not because of the lead. So the answers are misleading for someone who doesn't read betweeen the lines, they never state that their pottery does not contain any lead. I understand from links that the poterry outside contains high levels of lead. If the pottery does not contain lead, how come it doesn't day so on the label as some other earthenware dishes do?

                    1. Sounds like an urban legend. The one poster who did test the ceramics for lead said the results were negative. As the spokesperson for De Silva indicated below, it is somewhat irresponsible for posters to suggest that the cookware has lead in it, while not bothering to test it. And the Italian company would be subject to strict EU regulations and FDA testing, as other posters have mentioned.

                      Any residue on the outside after an initial soaking could very well be from the clay, or perhaps soluble salts found in tap water, which can make a white powdery appearance on the outside of terra-cotta plant pots. As I write, there's a nearby plant pot on a table with some white powdery substance on the outside. Because it's unglazed terra-cotta, there is no glaze to begin with, and hence no lead. The soil just needs some attention.

                      I have quite a few clay pots for cooking, and if I recall correctly, there is almost always a slight powdery residue on the pots when they dry after their initial soaking. It's a consequence of using a natural material. Clay is great to cook with, not a problem.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: VitalForce

                        I think it was started by this post: http://www.discusscooking.com/forums/...

                        The person indicated that there was .13% inside, and a whopping 6.6% outside. I don't think they'd randomly make up numbers when lead testing products they own. Either way, I'm a little skeeved out. I think the max is .5%.

                      2. Dear Sirs,
                        the lead content in the pot is minimum, it meets Directive EEC 84/500 15/10/84 and Cal.Prop.65 for leachable Lead and Cadmium in ceramic ware.
                        Please consider that as soon as our containers arrive in US, they are checked by FDA.
                        On our item you can find our labels with instructions, where there is the symbol of nutrition.
                        If you have any doubts about a De Silva item that you purchased, please let us know which one you have in the way to send you our test report.
                        Test reports are carried out by an authorized and certified company.Obviously we can guarantee for our products and not for those of other competitors.
                        Sorry for our late answer but we don't go usually on this kind of forum, one of our customer informed us about latest posts.
                        You can also contact us writing back at export@desilvaceramiche.it.
                        At disposal for any further information you may need,
                        With our best regards

                        1. I would have guessed that the white powder is efflorescence, the leeching of water-soluble mineral salts. It is pretty common with brick, clay, terra cotta and the like. My guess is that the pot is safe. The stain can be removed with a vinegar solution.

                          1. Contrary to report of lead in Terre D'Umbria, there is no lead either in the clay body or glaze. EU regulations have forbidden lead glazes on culinary ceramics for many years, much longer in some countries (like Italy) than in Balkan States for example. If there were lead or heavy metals in the glaze you would likely have fireworks on your hands when you use the microwave. What everyone seems to have missed in this string is that with earthenware you must FIRST boil it in vinegar water (about 1 quart vinegar to a gallon of water or use lemon juice) for about 25 minutes. Terre d'Umbria makes this clear in their instructions. This changes both the glaze and the clay body by reducing porosity. This trick was well-known historically and is still used in traditional societies where a lot of pottery is in daily use. In short, it extends the life of the ceramic, it reduces crackling of the glaze, and it reduces absorption of materials into the clay body itself. Since the ceramic baker in question was not sealed in this manner, it absorbed material from the dough and/or soap from the dishwasher. I have used ceramics from Italy, Cyprus, Switzerland, etc and have never had an problems because I have always treated the cookware with a vinegar bath first. And I repeat that from time to time just to keep the pottery in tip top shape and well sterilized.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: WilliamWoysWeaver

                              Thanks for posting this. I will definitely keep it in mind if I buy some of this style of cookware in the future.

                              1. re: WilliamWoysWeaver

                                I have a number of these pieces, when you say boil in a vinagar solution do you mean submerge them in a pot and boil them on the stove in this solution? Or just soak them in the mixture? Thanks

                              2. In reply to those who wanted to know more about acid baths for traditional ceramic cookware, you can either boil the entire utensil (and lid) in a large boiler with the added vinegar, or I think much better, 4 or 5 chopped lemons. The results are the same in terms of "tempering" the cookware. I have seen this type of advice even in medieval cookbooks, so this not new revelation.
                                What really bothered me about the original posting by Ambimom was that she/he is tragically functionally illiterate when it comes to the use of traditional cookwares of clay. These are by far the most superior implements for getting the most flavor for your effort. Worse, a jump-to-the-conclusion judgement based on Internet research has created a firestorm of reaction. Trust me as a culinary professional who teaches at Drexel University, we do not use aluminum AT ALL and we do not believe Internet food myths. We use pottery all the time. It is tough trying to get the right information into the hands of people who care about their food and how to prepare it, yet professionals end up chasing brush fires like this which are completely the product of misinformation or some kind of exaggerated food phobia.. If the Italians go after Ambimom for damages, I would not blame them. William Woys Weaver (you can look me up if you doubt my comments: www:WilliamWoysWeaver.com)

                                1 Reply