LAS VEGAS, July 25 (UPI) -- A study of 25 bottles of imported hot sauces from Mexico and South America found 16 percent contained lead levels, researchers say.
Shawn Gerstenberger and Jennifer Berger Ritchie of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the hot sauces were purchased from local ethnic markets, grocery stores and a swap meet. Product selection included a variety of manufacturers and types.
Bottles were shaken for 60 seconds and analyzed for lead concentrations and pH levels. The lead content of the packaging was also evaluated because lead content in packaging has been known to leech into and contaminate other food products, the researchers said
The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B; found four brands of hot sauces exceeded 0.1 parts per million lead, the current U.S. Food and Drug Administration's standard for unsafe levels of lead in candy. All four of these brands were imported from Mexico, but were from four different manufacturers, the study said.
There is no known safe level for lead exposure.
In young children, lead poisoning has been known to cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and even seizures, comas and death in extreme cases, the researchers said.
"The results indicate the need for more rigorous screening protocols for products imported in Mexico, including an applicable standard for hot sauce," Gerstenberger said in a statement.