Anybody that reads this blog with any regularity knows that I LOVE my crock pot. It gets used 4-5 times a month, to create all kinds of SCD-legal deliciousness. So it was with no small amount of alarm that I read an article sent to me by Julie Tinkham-Ray (facilitator of the local SCD Support Group that I’ve been on about so much lately). Here’s a link: Lead Poisoning and Crock Pots. The nutshell version: While it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, the glaze used on the ceramic inserts of slow cookers may contain lead that can leach into your food. Because the body is incapable of metabolizing or disposing of lead, even trace amounts can build up over time, causing a host of debilitating, even fatal, health issues.
I noted with some sense of relief that the article was somewhat dated, but resolved to do some research on my own. I was surprised to find that this has been written about rather extensively in the blogosphere, but not very well addressed in the offline world. The general consensus seemed to be that, while Rival brand was the worst, most manufacturers either currently use or in the past had used lead-based glazes and that those might result in leaching. The general consensus also seems to be that, in ALL CASES, the amount of lead that might leach is well within FDA guidelines. Given the numerous fiascoes that have resulted from FDA approval (fen-phen, anyone?) and the numerous red herring ‘problems that aren’t problems’ that the FDA obsesses over (raw milk, anyone?), saying that something is ‘within FDA guidelines’ is hardly reassuring.
Most of the articles I found all cited the same news story, by a local news anchor several years back. That story serves as the basis for just about every blog post citing concern.
But then I came across a different article. The skinny on lead in crock pots – It may surprise you! This blogger, having been unable to find any reliable or original data on the issue, took a very empirical approach to the problem. They acquired crock pots from the 4 top best selling brands, in a variety of colors. They then took samples from each of the ceramic inserts and submitted them to a lab for leach testing. The result? Not a single ceramic insert leached any measurable lead. This is, of course, not to say that there are no slow cookers that leach lead…. there may very well be. And heck, for all I know, the author just made it all up. It is the internet after all. Ultimately, you’ll have to make your own choices. But for me, that’s all the evidence I needed. I will continue to use my crock pot without concern. I will also thank Julie for bringing the issue to my attention… I was flattered to be thought of, and I appreciated the opportunity to research and write about the issue.