Candy - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Candy

The candy you're feeding your children may contain poisons, including lead and arsenic. Lab tests we had run on several brands reveal both toxins. Our lab's findings now have the Food and Drug Administration conducting an investigation of its own. The Federal agency knew of an existing problem with lead contamination, but was surprised by our findings of arsenic.

Yeah, IT TASTES GOOD

These kids love the salty, lemony taste of "Lucas Limon," a powdered candy shown in lab tests to contain potentially dangerous levels of lead and arsenic.

They eat it.

EVERYDAY, EVERYDAY

Lucas Limon is one of seven types of candy and one candy wrapper that Fox 29 had tested for toxic metals at Jupiter Environmental Laboratories, a certified state lab. Besides Lucas Limon, chemists here tested, and re-tested these candies imported from Mexico:

Baby Lucas
Marengo Strawberry Candy
Canel Gum
Tama Roca
Tama Roca wrapper
Elote

And American favorites, Astro pop, which is no longer made but still available, and Hershey Chocolate bar

Equal portions of each candy sample was poured, packed or smeared into separate test tubes.  Then chemist Zack Sulsa added ten mills of 1 percent acid and 10 mils of 70-percent nitric acid.

With each vial filled, the candy samples were placed on a digestion block--which is a hot plate of sorts, to stew for hours until each candy-acid mixture is reduced to liquid.

You have to make it go into a liquid state to go through the testing equipment?

"Right. Once liquefied, we just take a mil of your actual sample and put it in the test tube. The samples are run through these machines which tell us if toxic metals or arsenic are present.

A mechanical arm draws up the candy acid solution and sprays it onto a red hot plasma. Next it goes into a mass spectrometer which identifies lead and arsenic. The results appear on this computer screen.

"You really can't get anything better as far as the accuracy."

Ed Dadrea, the labs director, was surprised by the results. Traces of lead and arsenic found in six of eight tests.

"Some of the metals, heavy metals, being in candy is quite odd."

The arsenic detected is "inorganic" which is more TOXIC than "organic."

Pediatricians say children are particularily vulnerable because their bodies are still developing.

"It also effects their heart and brain, worse it can cause cancer."

EPA set a limit of 0.05 parts per million for arsenic in drinking water. The arsenic detected in this candy is as much as 11-times higher for a single piece.

Tama Roca
Strawberry
Astro Pop
Baby Lucas
Lucas Limon
Canel Gum and the lab also found lead in six candies.

The Food Chemicals Codex, which advises the federal government, set its recommended level for lead in sucrose at 0.1 ppm.

Our test reveal Lucas Limon at nearly double the level.

Tama Roca

Tama Roca Wrapper which could explain how the lead leached into the candy

Baby Lucas

Elote

The Hershey bar was the only candy to fall below that.1 level with 063ppm.

Lead, even at low levels, stays in the body, pediatricians say

"We're talking headaches, seizures learning disabilities."

Diana Lopez Perez has lead poisoning that California health workers linked to the imported Mexican candy she ate.

So how do toxic metals end up in these imported candies? Some of the answers may be found by tracing the trail backward from stores selling them to the fields of Mexico.

Chili powder, added to give candy a kick, is one source of lead. The chili usually becomes contaminated in the fields by toxic dirt, hardware and battery parts. Many Mexican candy companies often wrap their treats in wrappers printed with leaded ink, which can leach into the candy.

The FDA issued this statement last year advising parents that it would be prudent to not allow children to eat these products. The FDA wrote a seperate letter to Manufacturers, Importers and Distributors of Imported Candy warning them that it plans to take action.

But for now the candy is still sold here and kids like 6-year old Anna are still eating it.

How often do you have this? Once a week. Do you like the way it tastes? Yes

We asked her mom. if she knew it could be contaminated. She knows now. We told her. But others don't and will continue giving their children what they don't realize are toxic treats.

The maker of Lucas Limon, one of the candies that our tests indicated had both lead and arsenic, issued a voluntary product withdrawal in August, but the candies are still on many store shelves.

Our tests were random, the candy bought at several local stores. We tested just one sample of each brand and scientists will tell you the levels of lead and arsenic will vary from piece to piece of the same brand.

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