May 26, 2024

Consumer Reports: Lead and Cadmium in Lunchables Kits

Consumer Reports says that they found the heavy metals lead and cadmium in Lunchables kits and other lunch and snack kits from Armour LunchMakers, Oscar Mayer, Good & Gather (Target), and Greenfield Natural Meat. They tested for lead and other heavy metals and phthalates that are used to make plastic more flexible and durable.

Consumer Reports: Lead and Cadmium in Lunchables Kits

Amy Keating, a registered dietitian at Consumer Reports, said in a statement, “There’s a lot to be concerned about in these kits. They’re highly processed, and regularly eating processed meat, a main ingredient in many of these products, has been linked to increased risk of some cancers.”

Eric Boring, PhD, a CR chemist who led Consumer Report’s testing. added, “We don’t think anybody should regularly eat these products, and they definitely shouldn’t be considered a healthy school lunch.”

Consumer Reports tested 12 store-bought lunch and snack kits. Lead is measured in percentage of California’s maximum allowable dose level. There is no safe lead consumption. They used that value because they were no federal limits for heavy metals in most foods, and California’s standards are the most protective.

Lead, cadmium, or both were found in all of the kits. Even in small amounts, these metals can cause hypertension and kidney damage in adults, and developmental problems in children. The risks of heavy metals are cumulative from regular exposure over time.

None of the kits exceeded any legal or regulatory limit. But five of the 12 products would expose someone to 50% or more of California’s maximum allowable does level for lead or cadmium.

The tests found at least one type of phthalate in every kit tested except Lunchables Extra Cheesy Pizza. Phthalates are in most people’s blood. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, which can mimic or interfere with hormones in the body. This contributes to an increased risk of reproductive problems, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

You can see the levels of lead and sodium in each of the kits at the Consumer Reports site. Lunchables turkey and Cheddar Snack Crackers had the most lead and sodium, with Lunchables Pizza with Pepperoni coming in second. P3 Turkey Ham Cheddar and P3 Turkey Colby Jack Almonds had the least amount.

The sodium counts, depending on a child’s age, amount to about 1/4 to 1/2 of the daily recommended limit. And 14% of children and teens have prehypertension or hypertension. Children with high sodium intakes are about 40% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who eat low sodium diets.

Some of these meal kits, with some changes, qualify for the National School Lunch Program, which may lead parents to think they are better and healthier than versions sold in stores. Minor changes to these foods don’t ensure they are significantly healthier, according to Consumer Reports. Boring said, “Those changes are marginal, and in our opinion do little to improve their nutritional makeup.”

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