Lead-contaminated imported tamarind candy and children's blood lead levels

Public Health Rep. Nov-Dec 2000;115(6):537-43. doi: 10.1093/phr/115.6.537.


In 1999, an investigation implicated tamarind candy as the potential source of lead exposure for a child with a significantly elevated blood lead level (BLL). The Oklahoma City-County Health Department tested two types of tamarind suckers and their packaging for lead content. More than 50% of the tested suckers exceeded the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Level of Concern for lead in this type of product. The authors calculated that a child consuming one-quarter to one-half of either of the two types of suckers in a day would exceed the maximum FDA Provis onal Tolerable Intake for lead. High lead concentrations in the two types of wrappers suggested leaching as a potential source of contamination. The authors used the Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) model to predict the effects of consumption of contaminated tamarind suckers on populat on BLLs. The IEUBK model predicted that consumption of either type of sucker at a rate of one per day would result in dramatic increases in mean BLLs for children ages 6-84 months in Oklahoma and in the percentage of children wth elevated BLLs (> or =10 micrograms per deciliter [microg/dL]). The authors conclude that consumption of these products represents a potential public health threat. In addition, a history of lead contamination in imported tamarind products suggests that import control measures may not be completely effective in preventing additional lead exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Candy / analysis*
  • Candy / poisoning
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Commerce
  • Computer Simulation
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Packaging / standards*
  • Fruit / poisoning
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System, Childhood / blood*
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System, Childhood / etiology
  • Mass Screening
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Oklahoma
  • Public Health Practice


  • Lead