Following a state law mandating testing, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued more alerts for lead in candy than for the other top three sources of food-borne contamination combined, according to the first analysis of outcomes of the 2006 law by researchers at UC San Francisco and CDPH.
For many years, the state health department’s Food and Drug Branch has routinely prepared and disseminated health alerts to regional and county public health programs, practicing community clinicians, and the general public warning of potentially toxic food exposures. But until the 2006 law mandated a surveillance program, the CDPH did not test widely for lead in candy.
Margaret Handley, PhD, MPH, professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, is first author of the new study, which shows that in the six years before the law went into effect—from 2001 to 2006—just 22 percent of the alerts about food contamination involved lead in candy. Once the program was implemented, however, 42 percent of the food contamination alerts issued by state health officials were for lead in candy—nearly all of it imported—which was more than the total for Salmonella, E. coli and botulism, according to an analysis of alerts issued between 2001 and 2014. The study was published Oct. 26, 2017 in Environmental Health Perspectives.