HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


lead in candied ginger?

The state of California is suing Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target and other retailers and candy makers, claiming the companies have exposed consumers to illegal lead levels in their candied plum and ginger products.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/...

I love the TJ's candied ginger but maybe will start making my own?
no news about how much lead & why in food.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Great...I've bought nearly all the product brands mentioned by name in the article.

    Is fresh ginger safe? I can see the next generation of kitchen makeovers are going to include a science lab so people can first test their fresh ingredients and product brands out before consuming.

    Until the lawyers report how the lead got in the ginger, how does a consumer respond except to avoid those products and wait...

    5 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      the reports don't say how much so hopefully it's a small amount. is it from the soil or maybe screens the ginger is dried on? I have seen some recipes so maybe will try to replicate. Ginger people is from China but TJ's is from Thailand, does that make a difference? I hope more details are released.

      1. re: HillJ

        a few interesting links from 2012:


        The lead was coming from a variety of sources: the ink in the candy wrappers, the glaze in some containers, and unwashed chili peppers that had accumulated lead dust in the fields.


        "Researchers don't know how lead is getting into the candy, but suspect it is coming from lead particles in the air or lead paint at the factory"

        1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

          Thanks MM, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for info now. I have a bag of the TJ's loose in the bag right now. I'm half tempted to send it out for testing myself.

          1. re: HillJ

            maybe they'll post results of testing, have not found anywhere yet.
            there was a previous problem w/ ginger & fda in 2011

            1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

              Yes I remember that thread on the other issue TJ's claimed: Naturally occuring sulfites??? And TJ's took the product off their shelves for some time.

              However, this time it's a longer list of retailers and producers of ginger products. No mention of it on The Ginger People site for instance. I enjoy all forms of ginger and I've probably gobbled lbs & lbs in my lifetime. It would be really helpful to know where the lead is actually coming from and how the lead was found-what prompted testing. Given the origins of ginger and its production into the candy/dry goods market...why freak me out (lawyers!!) before having real facts to share. None of the products mentioned have been pulled off the shelves. Isn't that odd?!

      2. oh as a small aside, I love your screen name.

        1 Reply
        1. re: HillJ

          thanks! will have to change it if i ever move!

        2. I buy candied Ginger at a supermarket chain here called Sprouts. Thery specialize in natural and organic foods. Their product is packaged in small clear containers and most of the things they sell that way are also available in bulk. I haven't noticed any brand name or supplier on the weight/price labels so, hopefully, there's is OK.......... but they must be buyingit from some major supplier, so....???

          1. While in TJ's the other day I asked the Mgr. about the ginger issue. He said the stores have been instructed to tell customers that NO RECALLS have been ordered and this news report is being investigated. I counted 47 individual ginger products in the store; including many I have consumed over the years.

            What do you make of that?

            9 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              Ginger candy has been pulled from the local Tj's here just outside of Boston.

              1. re: shaebones

                Interesting. I wonder why the difference. When did you go?

                None of the ginger products at the TJ's in Shrewsbury NJ were pulled off shelves as of this past Saturday and no signs appeared anywhere and more importantly the Mgr. provided the info I posted above. I specifically went there to fact check.

                  1. re: shaebones

                    I think I'll make another call, thanks.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      they still have ginger at my local tjs.
                      as of a few days ago still no details about level of lead in products, if it's so bad why won't they say how much is in ginger?

                      "Attorney General Kamala Harris' office says laboratory tests found lead in the products, but didn't note in the lawsuit how much was found. It also didn't respond to a request by the Associated Press seeking that information."

                      1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                        Companies named in lead-tainted foods suit

                        99 Ranch Market: Red Lantern Plum Candy, Sliced Sweet Ginger, Sweet and Sour Prune, Sweet Fruit Dried Plum, Dried Plum, Dried Seedless Plum, Kan Rose Plum, Preserved Plum
                        Food Market: The Ginger People Baker's Cut Crystallized Ginger Chips
                        Island Pacific Supermarket: Dried Salted Prune
                        JFC International: Dynasty Sugar Ginger
                        Kam Lee Yuen: Ginger Candy, Plum Candy, Red Plum Candy
                        Lion Supermarket: Sweet Fruit Ginger, Seedless Plum, Sweet Fruit Sweet Plum, Sweet Fruit Dried Plum
                        Marina Food: Sweet Fruit Ginger, Sweet Fruit Licorice Lemon Ginger
                        Reed's: Reed's Crystallized Ginger
                        Target: Archer Farms Crystallized Ginger
                        Trader Joe's: Uncrystallized Candied Ginger
                        Whole Foods Market: The Ginger People Baker's Cut Crystallized Ginger Chips, Whole Foods Bulk Ginger

                        1. re: Michigan Mishuganer

                          Mine too. No new news on any of the products. The Ginger People product line hasn't said anything about this announcement.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I have two boxes of Gin-Gins (the ginger people) and a tub of crystallized ginger from fairway in the house I'm afraid to eat any of it. I hate to think about how much I have already consumed .

                            1. re: chowdom

                              Right there with you chowdom! I have those too, Gin-Gins are terrific for a sore throat. I go thru a good deal of crystallized ginger myself. I also have coconut ginger candies wrapped in a shinny cellophane from the Asian market that I'm wondering about...ugh!

              2. How does lead get into candied ginger?

                1. This topic just caught up with me, when I went looking for crystallized ginger at my calif TJ's and got the recall story.
                  Went online and found some citations of a San Jose, Calif importer being sued, etc.

                  What also caught my eye is that Chinese (and elsewhere?) farmers are using/abusing ALDICARB, a highly toxic pesticide, at many times the recommended rate, on their ginger crops. Causes liver damage as well. SO? Organic ginger? Some Organic products investigated have been found contaminated. Organic Certifcation is done IN China by Chinese inspectors--can you imagine what might happen to them if they blew the whistle on contamination in China?

                  So now not trusting any foreign ginger. Just found some fresh ginger grown in Brazil, at TJ's. May try to candy my own?

                  YIKES is all I can say. Have we been consuming foreign produce /foods with "blinders" on? Does that 'Organic' sticker mean anything?

                  Any recent info updates?

                  1. It's quite easy to make your own candied ginger, in slices or small and large cubes.I would suggest using organic sources for the fruit.

                    Just clean, peel, cut, slice, or cube, and add sugar to a pan, perhaps with a bit of lemon juice. Same with Citron, Cherries, Green Apple, and other candied items for the coming holiday baking. Fragrance left by the Citron or Ginger to us is particularly enjoyable.

                    The left over syrup can be used for baking or in mixed drinks, and candied fruit freezes well for quite sometime. One can buy candied fruit at a premium of course, but then we return to the theme of this article regarding contamination concerns.

                    1. Hm, something feels a bit off here.

                      All of the manufacturers of all of these products, in different countries and using different factories and methods, all managed to somehow get lead into the ginger? And then all of the retailers on the list "knowingly and intentionally" exposed customers?

                      In any other context this would sound like a conspiracy theorist's wet dream. I'm not sure how this can possibly all mesh in the real world. Knowingly exposing customers to lead certainly isn't good business for retailers; especially for retailers like WF and Trader Joe's that try to appeal to fans of organic, natural, etc, etc...

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        And I was never able to get any information one way or the other from any retailers selling fresh ginger or ginger products.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          Yes, quite.

                          The legal term " knowingly and intentionally " seems a bit of a stretch, when describing Whole Foods and Trader Joes. As if to prove someone's point or contention on the contamination.

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            lead in the soil from industrial waste?

                            1. re: toodie jane

                              Yes, that is one vehicle by which lead could find its way into ginger. But was all of the ginger from these products grown at the same farm? Or was all of the ginger, coincidentally, grown at farms situated in the vicinity of industrial waste dumps? (Or some other similar situation?)

                              I am not questioning whether lead can find its way into some ginger and that ginger find its way to the market. I'm sure that happens with lots of products all the time (unfortunately). What I am questioning is how all of these different products from different manufacturers can simultaneously have the same issue. That seems unlikely on its face. It seems even more unlikely that, as claimed, the retailers "knowingly" sold these dangerous products.

                              I should add that I was able to find almost nothing about this situation, beyond the article linked here and a few similar ones, in a Google search. Perhaps I'm using the wrong search terms? It's now been over six months since this happened -- anyone have updates or solid/non-FUD driven information?

                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                Me either. This is the second thread from 2013 on CH that mentioned lead in ginger and ginger products. The first time the concern was over ginger products sold only in Asian markets. The second time included products from The Ginger People, sold through markets. I was not able to find a single retailer to confirm anything about lead in grown ginger or ginger products. TJ's took ginger products off the shelf during the first news piece but not the second in my area. Now everything that was under scrutiny is back on the shelves.

                          2. Great. I have at least two of these products in my home right now.

                            1. I talked with my local TJ's and was told that they no longer sell it in CA, since they refuse to put the CA
                              Prop 65 warning label on the product. The trigger level for this is fairly low, but it is lead, it appears that the amount of lead in the product varies considerably, even from the same source.