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Press Release

Consumers Warned About Lead Hazard in Ceramic Pots Labeled "Lead Free"

October 20, 2009

Ceramic pots being sold at local stores contain dangerous levels of lead and health officials urge people not to use them for cooking or food storage.

Five pots purchased at FoodMaxx stores in Contra Costa and nearby counties were submitted for testing by Contra Costa Health Services' (CCHS) Hazardous Materials Program and all five came back positive for lead. The pots, which are made in Mexico and imported by Quirarte's Imports, are decorated like traditional Mexican bean pots with lids and are stamped "LEAD FREE" on the bottom. FoodMaxx has removed the pots from the shelves and will refund money, with proof of purchase, if the pots were purchased at FoodMaxx. A picture of the pot can be found online at

"We discovered one of these pots during a home visit. We tested the pot for lead and were shocked when tests came back positive for lead even though it was stamped lead free," said Joanne Genet, manager of CCHS' Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

The family said they purchased the pot, which exceeded the federal Food and Drug Administration standards for food containers, at FoodMaxx. The pots may be for sale in other stores or flea markets in the Bay Area.

"Lead poisoning can be damaging to the growth and development of young children even in very small amounts," warned Genet. "Slow cooking in one of these pots concentrates the lead in the food."

CCHS recommends families immediately stop using these pots for cooking, serving or storing foods and advises parents of young children who ate food from these pots to have the children tested for lead by their health care provider.

"The lead in these pots cannot be washed out, boiled out, or rubbed out. When lead is present in a ceramic pot no method will make it safe for food use," said Genet.

Pots purchased at FoodMaxx stores may be returned for a refund. More information about lead poisoning prevention is available online at

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Press Contact
  • Joanne Genet
  • 925-313-6763
  • Ana Villalobos
  • 925-313-6822 (Spanish)