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Nov 09

The skinny on lead in crock pots – It may surprise you!

crockpotI don’t like ambiguity, especially when it comes to the health of my children. So I was alarmed when I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to the question: “Do modern-day crock pot glazes contain lead that can leach into my food?”

While lead in ceramics has been an issue for as long as we’ve known about lead poisoning, the crock pot debate heated up several years ago when KUTV newsman Bill Gephardt reported that many commonly-used kitchen products contain lead. One of the items highlighted in the article is a Rival brand crock pot.

The standards, and what’s wrong with them

I went to the FDA’s web site first to see what the actual regulations are about lead in crock pot glazes. Searching for “lead” on this site is not something I would recommend to anyone who worries about this type of thing–did you know they have regulations on what the acceptable amount of lead in candy can be? Like there is any acceptable amount of lead in candy. Holy sh!t.

After quite a bit of poking around, I did finally find what I believe to be the FDA guidelines that would mandate lead levels in both ceramic slow cooker/crock pot inserts, as well as other ceramic plates, cups, and pitchers. It appears that leach levels of 1 mcg/mL are acceptable. The problem with this, of course, is that it doesn’t appear to test things like heat, the acidity of the food, and length of contact with the surface, all of which could reasonably be expected to affect how much lead ends up in our food.

Clemson University’s Cooperative Extension attempts to allay consumer fears with the following information on lead in ceramics, but even it admits that there could be lead in crock pots, “Enamel-coated iron and steel is colorful, stain and scratch resistant and does not pick up food odors. It does not contain lead, except in some glazes for slow-cooking pots (crock-pots). However, the amount of lead leached into food from these pots does not exceed FDA standards.”

The problem with even a little lead leaching into your food (because, let’s be clear, the FDA standard allows for some lead to leach), according to Mayo Clinic, is “Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over a period of months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems.” This means that while one serving of food prepared or served using ceramics that leach lead might not hurt much, over time the cumulative affect could cause lead poisoning.

Talking to crock pot manufacturers, or going down the rabbit hole

One concerned mama who knew that I have been investigating this issue asked me if there is such a thing as a lead-free crock pot. At this point in my research, I didn’t have an answer for her. So I decided to contact the manufacturers of the top five brands (based on Amazon.com search results, which I realize is not a scientifically air-tight method) and see what they had to say. Full disclosure: I didn’t call all of these folks because I literally lost my voice halfway through the research due to a nasty cold. So some companies got only an email, and some got both an email and a call.

Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach‘s web site has this to say about lead in its slowcookers:

Hamilton Beach specifications applicable to all slow cookers and their components (including the earthenware crocks) prohibits the product from containing any measurable amounts of lead. Furthermore, the factories that manufacture the earthenware crocks for Hamilton Beach are certified ceramic production facilities whose ceramic ware is deemed to satisfy FDA heavy metal requirements. Hamilton Beach takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the earthenware crocks accompanying our slow cookers provide safe and satisfactory service to our consumers.

One blogger has already contacted Hamilton Beach, who told her definitively that their crock pot glaze did not contain lead. The response I received to my inquiry, which mostly matched to what was on their web site, was slightly less reassuring:

Our product specifications require that all components in contact with food comply with US Food & Drug Administration “food-safe” requirements. The FDA requires that parts of food preparation products in contact with food do not leach lead above certain specified limits. The FDA does not require that a product in contact with food be “lead-free”. Our slow cookers have been tested by an independent laboratory and found to meet the FDA’s food-safe requirements; however, the unit is not “lead-free”.

West Bend

I couldn’t find any information on West Bend’s web site, so I called them directly. Their customer service department said that their crocks contain no lead. To be sure, I asked a clarifying question, “Do you mean it has no lead, or that it meets FDA standards?” She replied that they do not use any lead at all in their glaze. I suggested that they put this information on their web site because consumers would want to know.

Crock Pot & Rival

Crock Pot & Rival are actually owned by the same company, Jarden Consumer Solutions. When I phoned them, the very pleasant customer service representative’s first response was, “There can’t be lead in them.” I let him know about the FDA standards, and then he wasn’t so sure. He actually gave me the name and email address of someone in management to contact, and I have contacted him. The response I got does not reassure me:

Jarden Consumer Solutions (JCS) continues to proactively test its products for lead and other toxic metals, with the results continuing to come back favorably. Lead is not an additive in the Crock Pot slow cooker ceramic glaze. JCS is diligent in its efforts to ensure that its products are compliant with applicable regulations regarding the presence of lead.

Cuisinart

By the time I got to emailing Cuisinart, I knew more about what to ask. I focused my question to them on what safety measures and testing they undertake to prevent lead in their glazes from leaching into foods. I have not, at the time of writing, heard back from Cuisinart.

Contacting the manufacturers did little to allay my fears. Although the maker of my own crock pot (West Bend) assured me it was lead-free, the fact that other customer service reps I spoke or emailed with seemed unaware of the difference between “lead-free” and “FDA-compliant,” I knew I was going to have to take matters into my own hands.

When all else failed, I tested them myself!

Although various blogs and web sites mention this issue, I couldn’t find a broad review of the safety of crock pots, test results for lead, or satisfactory information from the manufacturers themselves. So I decided to contact some friends, get a selection of crock pots, and take them to WeeCycle Environmental Consulting down in Boulder, and have them surface tested with their XRF gun.

I quickly learned that a surface test using an XRF gun would not be a perfect indicator of crock pot safety. Jennifer from The Smart Mama told me exactly what is wrong with testing surface lead as a way of predicting how lead might move into food:

The FDA standards for lead in ceramics is a leachable lead standard, and the XRF measures total lead. So, I could find high levels of lead BUT the lead may not be leachable, which means that it wouldn’t migrate into food.

Basically, when the glazes are properly formulated and fired at a high temperature, the lead is sealed. However, if they are not properly prepared and fired, lead may leach into food stored in or on the ceramic ware.

Determined to get a true and accurate test of the risk of lead leaching into food, I found an inexpensive used Rival crock pot and planned to take a sample from it and have WeeCycle send it to the lab for a leach test (for obvious reasons, I didn’t want to take a chip out of my fairly new crock pot!). I ended up with quite a selection of crock pots, covering four of the five major brands (I couldn’t find anyone with a Cuisinart crock pot for some reason!) in several colors, since each color could have a slightly different chemical make-up. I think the wonderful ladies at WeeCycle were a bit surprised when I schlepped them all down to their office this morning to do the XRF test.

WeeCycle's XRF tester, who asked to remain unnamed, testing the crock pots, inside and out!

WeeCycle's XRF tester, who asked to remain unnamed, testing the crock pots, inside and out!

The results absolutely caught me off guard. Not one of the crock pots we tested had any lead in it at all. We tested each crock pot twice and threw a couple of red herrings (a dish made in China and some tiles from Italy that the WeeCycle staff keep in the office because they know they have lead in them) just to make sure that the XRF was working correctly.

Obviously, I did not test every crock pot on the market, nor can testing half a dozen crock pots on a single day account for things like a bad (read “lead-laden”) batch of glaze or a new color that uses slightly different chemicals. Some of the manufacturers themselves certainly seem to be leaving the door open for using lead in the glaze if they need to. But we tested the following crocks this morning and, again, they showed ZERO lead:

  • West Bend – black
  • Rival – black
  • Rival – dark green
  • Rival – beige
  • Rival – white
  • Hamilton Beach – white
  • Crock pot – black

Being a natural skeptic, I have to admit this was not what I was expecting to discover. I didn’t even get to smash the stylin’ $5 beige Rival crock pot I bought just for that purpose because there’s no point in doing a leach test on a crock that contains no lead to begin with. My frustration that the FDA has a standard (or many, actually) that I do not believe is actually safe, and that manufacturers do not arm their telephone representatives with accurate, detailed information to answer consumer questions about safety aside, I feel a fair level of comfort with the results of this test, and with continuing to use my crock pot to cook things that I might otherwise have bought in BPA-laden cans. Woot.

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  1. luana

    l just read that we should also test our soil, the dust in our homes – the list is long – see website link below.

    Lead is really everywhere – takes the joy out of life – but at least we are aware – as far as crock pots and ceramic imports I just read that Canada is fairly strict …. see site below

    http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/consumer-consommation/home-maison/cook-cuisinier-eng.php

    that does not help with the rest of the items like floor tiles, bathroom tiles, pipes and metal blinds – I have for a long time held my sweater or jacket over my nose when filling up at the pumps – I am not sure if this helps but it might cut down some of the lead I breathe in

    I believe the list is very long from what I have now read up on…

    Also I do metal cleansing with clean chlorella – why clean?? because many chlorellas have contaminants including metal – even the so called “organic” chlorella
    I found a clean chlorella at http://www.naturalnews.com
    I also found a doctor that sells (most likely) the best metal cleanse (expensive) – based in Florida
    called “metal free”

    hopes this info helps moms that have children with heavy metal toxicity – seems like we all do nowadays

    sorry for all this posting
    but I was needing answers myself and then thought of the metal cleansing I had and am doing myself
    and that it might help others

    luana

  2. luana

    BTW
    now suddenly I want to test the tiles in my entery way bathrooms and kitchen (where I walk barefoot on!!)
    how about the blinds??
    I have two inch metal blinds that I touch and clean – which could also have lead
    what about the metal pipes in the house? the kitchen faucette and the bathroom faucette etcetera.
    I can see where the kit will be handy

    luana

  3. luana

    OK – thank you for your comments

    I ordered the test kits from Abotex – Also I spoke to the owner of Abotex (the lead testing kits) today (1 800 268-5323) and he mentioned that a good in home test for lead…

    Would be to fill the crock pot with white vinegar (sounds expensive) and wait minimum 4 – 12 hours – and use his kit to test the vinegar…

    http://www.leadinspector.com/learn/how-to-use/

    I suggested to the owner of the Abotex testing kits that Kombucha when made is fairly acidic and maybe it would be a good idea to test the Kombucha as well first before buying up enough vinegar to test all the ceramic glazed crock pots in the house ?

    The test works by just rubbing an item with the test liquid on a q-tip – but with the crock pots acidic food such as Kombucha – tomato sauce etc. can cause lead to leach through the glaze into the food (that is if there is any lead in the crock pot or whatever we are worried about)

    He was not sure about testing the Kombucha (maybe he was not sure what Kombucha was) but that’s how my mind works – if the Kombucha sits in the crock pot for 8 – 10 days – my thinking was that by then lead should show up if there is any lead in the crock pot…
    Also I thought possibly just putting in enough vinegar to cover half way up the crock pot might be enough to test it as if there is any lead it should show up in even a half filled crock pot with vinegar as it was made of the same clay throughout? I am just thinking out loud here…

    I will be testing it anyway once the kit arrives at my door – it would cost a fair bit to fill up 3 crock pots with white vinegar – so maybe half way up would be sufficient?

    I would need about 430 ounces of white vinegar to fill them all up…
    then we are supposed to use the kit to test the vinegar after about 4 hours (can be left longer to make sure)

    I might just do both for peace of mind

    both the white vinegar test and the Kombucha test

    Luana

  4. admin

    Yes, acidic foods are more likely to leach than non-acidic foods. But there are plenty of crocks out that that are lead and cadmium free. As a first step, I would test the one you have. If it’s lead/cadmium-free, you know you can make your Kombucha (and anything else in it) without worrying about leaching.

    Bonnie, I wish had information for you on made in USA, lead/cadmium free crock pots, but I just do not know. There are plenty of items coming out of Mexico and China that are safe, and many others that are not. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you.

  5. luana

    I make a lot of home made Kombucha that is wonderful and full of probiotics B vitamins and amino acids and glutathione etc.
    but I make it in my crock pots – above there was a comment by Darrell that it is acid – I suppose tomato sauce or tomato soups or Kombucha that would cause a Crock pot to leach lead?? Not necessarily just heat… I read
    a warning on a Kombucha site to not use a crock pot because it might leach lead – but if there is no lead in
    a Crock pot then possibly it is not a worry??
    I wonder if there are any other contaminants that acidic food could pull out?

    I am worried now as I use crock pots to make sauerkraut and kombucha as well

  6. Bonnie

    I had just bought a crock pot but it says it’s made in Mexico, which now I am concerned about after reading comments. I brought home a calphalon too to check out, but found it was from China so both are going back. I would rather one made in USA with no lead, so where would I find this? The issue isn’t the FDA numbers but what was said earlier that it is the build up in the body. We have enough issues with the heavy metals we consume each day without adding lead to the mix. I have an infant grandson now and don’t want to take any chances with him. Any suggestions on what ones made in USA that are safe and work well? Bravo to your hard work and Perseverance in this matter. I wasn’t aware of any of this.

  7. Pat

    I wonder if those portable single cooktops on which you set the desired temperature would not be a good solution. You provide your own cooking vessel (one approved for this type of heating). I believe you can use stainless steel tri-ply, or a porcelain coated iron like Le Crueset.

    Sorry I can’t recall the name of these, but, I know they make complete cooktops, as well. (It almost seems along the lines of a Sous Vide but, doesn’t use water).

    I hope my favorite Le Crueset pots and pans are free of harmful materials. Anyone have any information on this?

    Thank you so much for this information.

    Best Wishes,

    Pat

  8. Amanda

    Thank you for doing this testing, it made me breathe a sigh of relief to read. My crockpots are indispensable and I would hate to think that a kitchen tool I’ve used so much was harming my family.

  9. Frances

    Regarding “white stains:” This sounds l like mineral accumulation from water and/or food. As far as I know it’s not dangerous. If that’s what it is you could remove (or at least reduce) it by soaking it in vinegar. But I’d just leave it alone. –Frances

  10. admin

    The best way to know for sure if there is lead present in your crock pot is to get it tested. At the time that I wrote this article in 2009, I was testing new ones (<5 years old) and an older model that looked like it was 20+ years old. So it’s possible that your Rival is of similar age to the ones I actually tested. That said, I wouldn’t assume a similar brand crock pot of a different color or even from a different manufacturing batch in the same color is lead free just because the ones I tested were.

  11. Lisa

    I appreciate your effort for testing the crock pots. Reading your report, two questions came to my mind:
    1- How old are we talking about when we say the old ones?
    2- I have a Rival that is at least 10 years old but it is kind of brown. Should I be concerned?

    Thanks,

  12. admin

    The web site doesn’t specify which particular toxin necessitated the Prop 65 warning, but it certainly doesn’t sound good. It’s really quite easy to XRF test for lead and the beauty of this test is that it doesn’t just test for surface lead, but any lead in the crockery at all. So if it tests zero, you can be sure that no lead will end up in your food. That said, there are other heavy metals that sometimes contaminate glazes, so just because there’s no lead doesn’t mean that the crock pot is 100% safe. Best of luck!

  13. Melinda

    I accidentally came upon a review about a certain “new” crock pot because I am looking for one to buy. This review said he saw a “prop 65″ warning at target on a crock pot. Yes there is. The link is below. I found the crock pot. Does that warning mean lead?

    http://www.target.com/p/crock-pot-oval-4-qt-red/-/A-10025827#prodSlot=medium_1_20&term=crock+pots

    Now I am not sure which to get. I had a crock pot for over 20 years. Did not use it that much. I bet it had lead in it.

  14. jonathan

    Thank you for your diligence and for sharing, I still have reservations about using my crock pot brand crock pot because it has a persistent white discoloration throughout the ceramic insert up to the typical food level. The white chalky residue seems to concentrate in a pattern consistent with invisible cracks in the glaze. The residue seems to disappear when wetted and reappears when dry, it can be mostly scrubbed away with severe and intensive scrubbing with a scouring pad but reappears after the next usage. Could this be simple lime buildup or is it possible that this is lead residue leaching out of the clay and/or glaze? If the pot were to contain lead, could it be in such quantities as to leach visibly and persistently onto the surface as described? How common is a visible lime buildup on ceramic inserts?

  15. Tracey B

    This was a small sampling of crocks. The studies done on a larger scale found about 20% of the crocks had lead. I think the purpose was to enlighten people about the difference between lead free and what passes under the FDA, encourage people to perhaps get theirs tested or buy one that is actually lead free. I do not think this was meant to certify anything she tested means all of the crocks made by those companies are lead free. But it does encourage people to be aware and do their homework.

  16. Tamara Rubin

    I have tested quite a few crockpots with my XRF (modern crockpots) that have tested positive for trace levels of lead – photos can be found on my facebook page: http://wwww.facebook.com/MisLEADMovie

    I am making a film about childhood lead poisoning and the trailer can be seen on my website (for those who are interested) – link below.

    Tamara Rubin
    http://www.TamaraRubin.com

  17. John

    This is great and the comments are helpful as well. Here is my dilemma. I live in europe and found a Crock-Pot (Jarden) brand slow cooker that allows you to use the stoneware directly on the stove to sear meat before slow cooking. This model is not available in the US, though! (SCVI600BS is the model number) I contacted customer service to find out if the stoneware had some kind of non-stick coating and they insisted that there is no coating material. Now, after having contacted them about this, the EU websites (crockpoteurope.com and crockpot.co.uk) now state that this model has a non-stick coating. So, now that my lead fears have been alleviated, now I have to deal with the fact that this model might have some sort of teflon-like non-stick coating which could cause health issues. Should I try to return this in exchange for another model that is not suitable for using on the stove? I find it interesting that this model was formerly available in the US but not any more. In reality, Crock Pot USA doesn’t offer any models that can use the stoneware directly on the stove, whereas in Europe there are two models.

    Any suggestions as to what to do here?
    thanks,

    John

  18. Claudia

    Thank you for doing this! I just bought a new Crock-Pot and was worried about the possibility of lead.

  19. Andrea Kargbo

    The problem here is not the lead that is going to rub away from the outer surface, but the chemically bound lead that will leach into the food. It is a chemical process where the lead used as part of the raw material (that is now bound chemically) reacts with the food being cooked and leaches into it, With heat acting as a catalyst. The only way to test the presence of lead here is to send the food to a lab for testing. Most cookware manufacturers have lead in them and if it was easy as lead rubbing off from the surface, then FDA would not have approved so many of them. So that’s really not the problem. The problem is with this other kind of lead that is harder to detect. I use MEC Pure-Clay cooking pots… they are just awesome. I’ve used them on my stove top and in my slow cooker. They have NO-lead or any other heavy metals; they are made from pure-mineral rich clay that is tested to ensure the raw material is indeed pure. Also, they’re made in the USA. You should check them out, I would highly recommend that be a part of every healthy kitchen. thanks Andrea.

  20. Mary

    Thank you for your thoroughness and the helpful information.
    What’s the current, updated information re: lead-free crock-pots/glazes?

  21. Janis

    There are also lots and lots of water crocks out there. And when looking at them on websites, they don’t say whether they are lead free or not. So lots of folks might be thinking they are getting good water, but a bit of lead with it. The ones that I have queried they have not responded if their product contains lead.

  22. Sharon

    Thank you for all of your efforts! I came across the title worried that my crockpot was a danger- and you went through all this work and convinced me that yes- the crock is a wonderful kitchen tool! Thank you! I do really appreciate all of the hours that you put into this project! ;-)

  23. Kristel Wolf

    Thank you so much for researching this!! =)

  24. Merrill

    @ Dawn and Erica

    I have been a potter and also in the commercial housewares industry for many years.

    Many years ago lead was added to glazes as a way to yield very bright colors. It has not been used in functional ware for almost 50 years and to find a crockpot with lead bearing glaze would be extremely improbable. Manufacturers of ceramic/porcelain are VERY aware of safety standards and never use or purchase glazes that contain materials known to be toxic when fired.
    it is NOT HEAT but ACID in food that causes lead to leach out into the food. If the glaze has not been mixed with lead, there is nothing to leach out.
    You may test tableware at home by pouring in white vinegar and check back after 24 hours…If the bowl color has changed, leaching has occurred. Don’t use with food!
    I would not be concerned except with products from Mexico, China or Africa. That test will reveal.

    Erica, I am certain clay does not contain lead….the issue has always been dangerous substances added to the glaze.

  25. Dawn

    Ok, this is good to know. Thanks! To sum up (and correct me if I am wrong), sounds like there may have been lead in the glazes or clay of some crockpots years back (and there may some today that still do), but that most companies are testing lead-free for glazes. Yet the clay in the crockpots may have traces of lead from contamination that would leech only in the case of faulty manufacturing. Hence, the companies cannot claim that their products are 100% lead free due to possible traces of lead in the clay. But there might still be the issue of zinc or other toxic materials leeching? Sounds like I will use my crockpot sparingly and on low for a limited time. Any more research with lead or zinc findings would be helpful!

  26. admin

    Dawn, I don’t really know anything about that, but the beauty of XRF testing is that it detects the presence of any lead in or under the glaze. If there’s no lead in the thing, then there’s no lead that can leach out when it’s heated :) And I agree with Erika that lead contaminating organic materials used in the glaze is the most likely reason for lead contamination in most cookware. But I also do think it would be possible for manufacturers to XRF test every single glazed item they produce (imagine an XRF machine as the last step in the assembly line) as part of quality control. They inspect items for other (aesthetic) flaws, why not also test for the deadly ones?

  27. Dawn

    I have just read that it will not release lead unless heated. Therefore, the governmental standards get away with it because the items tested are off. Please comment.

  28. Erika

    There is no love lost between me and corporations, but this notion that companies are “leaving the door open” to use lead in the future is ridiculous. The more likely explanation is that because clay and glaze are organic materials, it is impossible for them to claim definitively that no crock pot has contained or ever will contain lead due to natural variations in the materials. If they did claim that, they would open themselves up to lawsuits.

  29. Rosie

    What test do you recommend to do lead testing? Can you give a name and instructions?

  30. John Weissman

    Great stuff, especially the self-sponsered testing! Thanks much. I didn’t think the glaze has lead, but my Crock Pot after only a few months of use–I use it alot–has what seems to be a wearing down of the glaze, and the surface has become somewhat porous. I am concerned about lead in the material under the glaze … Well, stainless is the “answer”–I hope! My attitude about lead in cookware: ZERO TOLERANCE.

  31. meg

    great work! thank you!!

  32. cathy

    What about a West Bend Crockpot (white insert) that has a lot of grey scratches inside? I’ve been nervous about using it.

  33. Julianna

    I have done some more research!
    Anchor Hocking is completely and totally lead-free. And all of the ingredients used in the “pot-ash” are melted at such a high temp that they bond to and become part of the structure of the glass and there is NO leaching… Yay! and it’s American Made!

    @Lamb Chop… I was so upset by what you said about the Jarden Corp, I contacted them directly… (I got the same answer from AGC)
    Dear Julianna B:
    We appreciate your message and the opportunity to assist. There is a cold end coating of polyethylene applied to the outside of all glass containers to help prevent breakage when being conveyed down the manufacturing, packaging and filling lines. This is practiced by all glass manufacturers on all glass bottles/containers. So any glass bottle/container with food or beverage products has this type of coating applied to the outside.

    This coating is not applied to the inside.

    We hope this is helpful and thank you for contacting us.

    Sincerely,
    Consumer Affairs
    Jarden Home Brands

  34. admin

    Nicolas, of course there is no way for one person to test every crock pot on the market–the best I could do was to test my own and a selection borrowed from friends in the community. Even if I had tested every available brand, I think it’s very likely that the lead content could vary within the same make and model based on the particular batch of glaze and/or masonry used.

    My hope is that other people will test their crock pots and post their results just as Insightful Nana, myself, and others have. If we can’t get a straight answer about safety from the manufacturers, then we need to share our experiences consumer-to-consumer in order to help keep these harmful contaminants out of our foods and our bodies…

  35. Nicolas Holzapfel

    How do you account for conflicting test results such as this: http://insightfulnana.com/home-garden/housekeeping-home-garden/lead-poisoning-and-crock-pots/html

    Isn’t it possible that only a small % of crock pots contain lead and your test sample wasn’t large enough to include one?

  36. admin

    Laura, yes, I’d be interested to know about the REALLY old ones too. We got one fairly old one at a thrift store, but that was all we could find and even it was 80s, not 70s.

    Kathleen, I’m pretty sure they were all either made in China or made with glazes and materials that came from China–it just seems to be the way things are these days. I live in Finland now and just bought myself a new crock pot (because we’re on 220 electricity over here, so my 110 American one doesn’t work here!) and guess what? It’s made in China too :(

    Thanks for all the comments and feedback on this post, everyone! I never thought I’d be answering questions about it 2.5 years later! :) Julie

  37. kathleen

    Many thanks to all of you concerned moms and grandmoms out there who are vigilant about keeping as many toxins as possible OUT of the food we feed our families!!! And, special thanks to “admin” for digging deeply into this issue and actually conducing her own research. Bravo! Frankly, I never trust the manufacturer because they dissemble so much in their answers to CTB (cover their behinds).

    Question to admin: were the crocks you tested made in China? I’ve never seen a crock that wasn’t made in China, but I haven’t actually done an exhaustive survey!

    Question to anyone: has anyone ever tested a Hamilton Beach black oval (recent make)? I just bought one yesterday to place my old Rival that is 20 years old. I’m wondering if we’ve already eaten all the lead in that one, so maybe it’s safer than a new one?

  38. Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares

    Thanks for posting this. From the color selections, it sounds like you had some newer slow cookers, and two from the late 1980s to mid ’90s. I’d be interested to know about the brown ones from the 1970s.

  39. admin

    I can’t find any information one way or the other about canning jars being coated in polycarbonates. Many of my jars are quite old, given to me by a neighbor, so hopefully they predate this practice, but it’s definitely worth investigating.

    I have been pleased so far with my Tattler reusable canning lids–they are BPA free and reusable (double bonus): http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/

  40. lamb chop

    Jarden is the marvelous company making your canning jars, sprayed with polycarbons (plastics and hardeners) without telling us, for years…and refusing to take BPA out of the lids. I just won’t use them. If we all voted with our dollars….with all of their arms of business—yeah, it would make a dent.

    aren’t those inert jars shiny these days!! :)

    I know, I am not posting the footnotes, but they took the patent information off the internet just last week or so. I know! But it can be searched in the us patent offices, look for cornings’s patent on this, it was very clear, and a list at the end of all the different chemicals they want to use to do this, lots of combinations. Their web sites still say, only 3 inert ingredients in glass——they don’t mention the coating that allows you to safely “bounce” your jars :) Try a gallon jar you use for kombucha and kefir water….feeleellllll the rubbery-ness?

  41. Monica

    I just called West Bend and they told me that there is lead in the clay. The glaze they use is lead-free. The glaze seals the lead and does not let any lead to be leached into food. BUT if there are cracks or if there are areas where the glaze created bubbles when being fired and you can see the clay, even tiny ones like mine, lead will leach.

    Did you ever asked for how long would lead leach? My crockpot is 6 years old, but hasn’t been used that much. I wonder if all the lead has been leached out already….

  42. Becky Leppard

    Your article is very interesting and helpful. Thanks for doing all this research and posting your results.

  43. Tina

    I am not willing to take a chance anymore on those crockpots. Many of the models you tested were new or newer. What happens when they age and develop nearly invisible hairline cracks in the glaze? Do you really want to risk your families health? During my research, I found this crockpot that has an unglazed clay liner: http://www.amazon.com/SPT-SC-5355-Zisha-Slow-Cooker/dp/B0036704M8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1320890670&sr=8-2. Home Depot carries it too. The manufacturer guarantees it is lead-free. The clay liner might be a little tougher to clean, but worth it.

  44. admin

    Thank you to everyone who has weighed in on this issue. This post was never meant to be an all-encompassing post on crock-pot safety. Instead, I just shared the results of the small-scale tests I did after receiving unsatisfactory answers from the crock-pot manufacturers I contacted when trying to figure out if the crock pots my friends and I had purchased contained lead.

    I encourage people to do their own research, and share it with the public, because that’s the only way awareness is going to be raised, especially when manufacturers are not required by law to publish detailed safety information. We can hope that some day, there will be more stringent regulations so that we won’t have to rely on blogs and individuals for this type of information.

  45. Kim

    I have a Kenmore crockpot purchased 2 years ago. Where does that fit in this mess of crockpots & lead?

  46. Charles Michael Archangel

    So now we are to believe whatever the FDA tells us, we are to believe the author of this article, and we are to believe the results of his tests. I will not. The manufactorers of this cook ware know there is a problem. I want to see their tests.

  47. meg

    crazy stuff we put in the things we manufacture. Thank you for all the research, I”m getting ready to graduate and buying kitchen related items. On a small budget it’s nice to be able to get at least a few things that are lead free! Or lead safe!

  48. April

    Thank you for your info on Crockpots.
    I know you have put allot of time into this.

    That said, I do not understand how this is the only site that says all these old and new Crock pots do not have any lead in them!
    And everyone here is believing it , like its the Gospel! (so to speak)

    Some of you with the Rival might want to do some of your own research,as Rival will not give a answer. They just say, it meets the standards, and do not want to really comment about the lead in there Rival crockpots.

    If anyone is really concered about the Lead content, please do more research, and do not believe one person.
    Although I’m sure she means well, and has put allot of work and time on Lead content.
    Its not the last word in Crockpots with lead.

    We are bombarded by lead in dishes, cookware, food etc.
    I have also thought about resturant food,and what its cooked in!

    I know we al want to believe our crockpots are safe, BUT!!!

  49. admin

    I definitely think tests for other heavy metals would be a good idea. But I think it will be a while before I’m able to do this work myself–just after I wrote this post, my husband lost his job and I temporarily went back to work full-time. Now he’s employed again, but we’ve moved to Finland! No more local connection with all the testing equipment…

  50. Rachel

    I’m so grateful that you did this testing and shared it on your blog!
    I was wondering if you ever did any further testing on other toxins as the previous poster suggested?

  51. Sally Goldin

    Do you know if the tests were done while the crockpot was heated? I read somewhere (don’t remember where) that you can’t detect the lead if the glaze isn’t heated up. Do you know anything about that?

    My crock pot just developed a leak and I want to get another one ASAP, so am very interested in this issue.

    Thanks!
    Sally

  52. Alicia

    Thank you so very much. I truly appreciate that you did all this research. Thank you….thank you. :)

  53. lydia

    This is awesome!! Thanks for sharing all the research you did on this!!

  54. carol

    Responding to Jill, I also had a metallic taste in my food- mostaccioli after a slow bake in the crock pot. The kids would not eat it.
    It was a Hamilton Beach white crock. After reading many of your comments, I think I will throw out our crocks. Have a young son who is having some learning disabilites, and want to eliminate all potential toxic sources. Scary stuff.

  55. admin

    If there had been lead detected with the XRF machine, my next step would have absolutely been a leach test. However, there was no lead. No lead in the item means that there is no possibility of lead leaching into the food. It can only leach if it is present to begin with…

    That said, I do think it’s worth testing leaching of other materials such as zinc and cadmium, since the XRF test I did was only for lead….Everything I read, however, indicated that the leach tests available to consumers have a very broad margin of error, so I may see about getting a leach test done for these other materials in a lab so that we can count on the results a bit more than a home test.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  56. Barbara Forth

    Thank you so much TVelocity for the research you did. I am grateful and relieved, but must admit too being still a little sceptical. I’m with Cate about boiling water, keeping it hot for hours and then testing for lead. Has anyone ever done this? I will do it myself I think, and test with the home tests for lead. Until then, I’ll hold off on buying a crock pot for my daughters with their young children.

  57. flyingbird

    This is fantastic. Thank you so much for doing all this work, and sharing your results. You have given me great reassurance!

  58. Caitlin

    I haven’t used my Rival Crockpot for fear of lead for two years now. I have been searching for some more answers but never have been able to find anything until now. Thank you so much!!

  59. Stacy

    Thank you so much for doing this research and for posting it!! I did not own a crock pot at the time I brought the local handheld XRF guy to my house (after his visit, all my dinnerware was replaced – starting with the 10% lead vintage earthware!!). I so disappointed to hear about lead in crock pots. I think will go out tomorrow (finally) and buy my first crock pot and then stop by the XRF compamy and have it checked out – just to be sure. I spent hours researching this the other night – everything I read was so inconclusive and incomplete – I gave up on buying one. Thanks Stephanie for sending me this link!

  60. admin

    Jill, you are correct that the pot doesn’t always have to be broken to test for leaching. The folks I worked with, however, didn’t have leach testing capability on-site, and as a rule sent just a sample for leach testing at another location, not a whole big crock pot insert.

    I will have to do more digging about other contaminants. The original question I got was about lead, so that’s what I focused on. Thanks for letting me know there are other things to check out!

  61. jill davis

    I had my Rival crock pot tested at a lab where they did a leach test- didn’t have to destroy the pot, just filled it with a solution of something (can’t remember exactly what) and waited for any materials to leach out of the pot. The result was high levels of zinc. The levels of zinc were just barely under the allowable accepted “safe” levels for human consumption–this after 8 years of using that crockpot!

    I first became suspicious about leaching when I cooked a broth-based meal in the crockpot. The flavor of the soup was light and this metallic taste came through. I tried the soup again and same thing. This metallic taste never happened with the heavier meals I would cook. The light broth tipped me off. I’ve never used a crock pot since.

    So, worry about toxic materials other than lead!

  62. Anne

    Thank you for sharing this information! A neighborhood friend of mine was just telling me that she threw away her crock pots because she heard about the “lead levels”. I started doing some searching around, because I use my crock pot ALL THE TIME. I am relieved to hear of your findings!

  63. sheila

    thk you…10x over..i just purchased a rival black a few mo ago thanks for the effort and diligence..

  64. AnneM

    Thank you for testing the crockpots yourself. It has greatly eased my mind. I had recently bought a new crockpot to give as a christmas gift to my daughter-in-law. I started wondering (after reading several reports about lead levels) that maybe I was poisening my son and his family. I appreciate all your efforts and the fact that you shared your results.

  65. Corrina Milito

    I find it so interesting that most, if not all of us, are surprised at your findings, Julie. It seems the critical thinking consumer is always on the ready for disappointment. We expect to be misled and ultimately let down. And I’m glad of it. The suspicious shopper will only force manufacturers to test and disclose and produce more mindful goods. Thanks, Goose!

  66. Jess

    Wow–I’m impressed with how much information you were able to get from the manufacturers. How much time did you spend trying to get informative people on the phone? Having to call companies like Hamilton Beach for product information in the past, I’ve found it is rarely speedy to find someone who actually knows that much about the company’s product construction on the phone. So that said, thanks for the informative leg work, even if you lost your voice. Poor thing!

  67. Cate

    Thanks so much for this research!! I’ve only been able to find what the companies are saying – not so helpful – and not xrf tests. I’d just bought a Crock Pot (black ceramic lining) but didn’t want to use it until I felt more secure. I’m wondering about testing whatever I cook in the pot for lead, like heating water and sending that in for testing like you can do for water, etc. If I do, I’ll come back and give you an update.
    Thanks again!
    Cate in NoCalifornia

  68. Stephanie O'Dea

    I love it that you did your own independent research!

    Yay on the fabulous findings! I get quite a few emails inquiring about this, and now have a great resource to send out.
    Thank you!

    xoxo steph

  69. Jennifer

    Phew….! Now if I could just get to using mine more often….
    Thanks!

  70. Erika Carlson

    hooray – i was holding my breath while reading as I use my rival crock pot a lot…i was ready to hear about another thing I coulnd’t do anymore. But mine is red, so I suppose i’m not totally in the clear!

  71. Kayris

    I am relieved. I use my Rival crockpot (white) weekly, and sometimes 3 or 4 times per week! Glad I can continue to use it and not worry about poisoning my family.

  72. Angela

    Thank you very much for doing all this research! It is very helpful and reassuring.

  73. Summer

    Yay! My poor crock pot has been sitting unused because I wasn’t sure exactly how to know for sure. Since it’s a Rival black I’m thrilled! Thank you so much for doing this!

  74. Pop and Ice

    Oh, thank, God. I couldn’t take anymore bad news about stuff in my house today. I get to keep my lovely crock pots.

  75. admin

    You know, the funny thing Alison is that the crock pot I bought at the Thrift store was a Rival (one of the ones that allegedly used to use lead) and it was definitely an older model, I’d guess at least 20 years old, and it still didn’t have lead in it. It makes me wonder whether the lead issue was a production quality thing and not really intentional usage. The WeeCycle folks said lots of manufacturers are making the crocks in China and doing glazes here in the US to control quality better. Hmmmm…

  76. A Mama's Blog- Heather

    I am surprised too! But it is great to find out that lead hasn’t been leaching from my crock pot all these years. Thanks for writing and doing the research for this excellent blog post!

  77. Alison

    Nicely done! And good news indeed. I wonder at companies leaving the “door open” to use lead if needed. That definitely needs to change. I wonder if they are murky on the issue because they don’t want to admidt any lead use, especially say, merely 10 years ago.

  78. crunchy domestic goddess (amy)

    thanks so much for having all of the crock pots (and my plate) tested. i couldn’t bear the thought of lead in our food in addition to the BPA. ;P great post!

  79. Nature Deva

    Nice work! So glad to hear there is no lead in any of the leading brands! Now I feel good about going out and buying the big,oval Rival slow cooker on sale at Target right now – my smaller, round Rival is not cutting it lately!

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