If you’re one of the many that loves imported hot sauce, you might want to think again because you could be giving your meals more than just a spicy kick. According to researchers in Nevada, those south of the border hot sauces that are sold in the United States have dangerous lead levels. In this first ever food and environment study, certain un-monitored hot sauces are being called to question.
According to the head researcher with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Shawn Gerstenberger, there are currently no United States governmental standards for how much lead goes into imported hot sauces and imported foods.
Researchers at UNLV examined 25 bottles of hot sauce brands that were imported from South America and Mexico. Although the sauces were purchased from grocery stores and ethnic markets in the US, they were imported brands. Four of the bottles exceeded the US FDA guidelines for safe lead levels. Researchers also tested the packaging, because it can often leach into food products.
It is thought that of the cause of the high lead levels in hot sauce is that many of the countries that produce these products use mine salt, which tends to be higher in lead than other options such as sea salt. Also, researchers feel that giving the chili peppers, which give the sauces their kick, would be helpful in reducing the high lead levels.
According to Gerstenberger, the hot sauce study was almost accidental. In 2006, the researcher discovered that Mexican type candies that contain salt and chili peppers had high levels of lead in them. In a study that helped to remove some types of imported candles from the shelves of many grocery stores, the team discovered potentially toxic levels of lead in these imported candies.
He says that candies that come from Mexico are often very high in lead levels. It’s in the salt and peppers, and these are the same ingredients that hot sauces contain. The two products are often found side by side in stores;, so researchers decided to examine the levels of lead found in hot sauces, as well.
Mexican companies have been urged to make changes in the way they produce their hot sauces, much as was the case with the candy industry in Mexico, but if they change their methods will remain to be seen.
However, this study has helped to bring the potential danger of south of the border spicy sauces to light, and the team of researchers is hopeful that the FDA decides to regulate these products in the same way that they do American products.