Group Finds Lead In Kids' Drinks A California environmental group found levels of lead in children's juice products that far exceed state law -- and in some cases also exceed federal levels for young children. The group purchased apple juice, grape juice, canned peaches and pears, and fruit cocktails -- all marketed for kids -- and sent them to an EPA-certified lab for testing.
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Group Finds Lead In Kids' Drinks

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Group Finds Lead In Kids' Drinks

Group Finds Lead In Kids' Drinks

Group Finds Lead In Kids' Drinks

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A California environmental group found levels of lead in children's juice products that far exceed state law — and in some cases also exceed federal levels for young children. The group purchased apple juice, grape juice, canned peaches and pears, and fruit cocktails — all marketed for kids — and sent them to an EPA-certified lab for testing.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Sarah Varney of member station KQED in San Francisco reports.

SARAH VARNEY: David Schardt is a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group that tracks food safety issues. Schardt reviewed the testing results for NPR.

DAVID SCHARDT: If someone is making unfortunate choices in the brands that they're buying and serving their children, this could be a cause of concern because they might be getting more lead than is healthy for them.

VARNEY: Megan Schwarzman, a family physician and associate director of the Center for Green Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley, says children are especially vulnerable.

MEGAN SCHWARZMAN: Their brain is not mature. Their nervous system is not mature. All of their organ systems are developing rapidly.

VARNEY: The group has sent notices of suspected violations of state law to California's attorney general, Jerry Brown. The foundation's president, Jim Wheaton, says that such tests can go a long way toward changing company behavior.

JIM WHEATON: Once pressed by things like California's law, people find ways to get the lead out and they reduce the exposure so they don't have to give a warning, and that's a good result.

VARNEY: All of this gives Schardt from the Center for Science in the Public Interest a glimmer of hope.

SCHARDT: If you look at the apple juice as if there are some manufacturers who managed to avoid the lead entirely. And it would be interesting to find out how they're managing to do that. Are they choosing different fruits, fruits from different farmers who have avoided lead contamination of their products? Or do their manufacturing processes, are they of such a kind that they avoid adding lead to the food that they're processing?

VARNEY: For NPR News, I'm Sarah Varney.

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