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Feds are investigating drinking glasses with lead
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In addition to the Vandor recall, the Coca-Cola Co. voluntarily recalled 88,000 glasses that shed cadmium during separate AP testing that recreated what could escape from decorations during regular handling. The glasses came in sets of four and were designed to look like cans of Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Sprite.
Coke said late Sunday that the all-red Coke glass prompted the recall “for quality reasons.” The company said it saw no problem with the other three designs.
The company said the red glasses had been tested and passed; then, after AP brought its results to Coke, the company did a second round of tests that it said “indicated some cadmium in the decoration on the outside of the glass, (but) the low levels detected do not pose a safety hazard or health threat.”
The manufacturer of the Coke glasses, French-owned Arc International, emphasized in a statement attributed to CEO Fred Dohn that the glasses “are safe for their intended use and meet all applicable regulatory standards for cadmium.”
The latest AP testing was prompted by a recall this summer by McDonald’s of 12 million glasses because cadmium escaped from designs depicting four characters in the latest “Shrek” movie.
Arc International officials said in June that the “Shrek” glasses, made at its New Jersey plant, were manufactured according to standard industry practices, which includes the routine use of cadmium to create red and similar colors.
To gauge how widespread the use of lead and cadmium has been _ and whether their use poses potential health hazards _ AP bought 13 new glasses, plus 22 old glasses dating from the late 1960s to 2007.
Those glasses were subjected to a battery of tests at ToyTestingLab of Rhode Island, which is accepted by the CPSC as an accredited laboratory for a range of procedures. The tests looked at whether glasses would shed lead or cadmium from their decorations during normal handling, as well as how much of the toxic metals those decorations contain.
AP’s testing showed that while the Chinese manufacturer of the superhero and Oz glasses loaded the decorations with lead, very little came out of the decorations during testing. Overall, 25 of the 35 glasses tested safe _ their decorations shed very low or no detectable amounts of lead or cadmium.
The other 10 glasses shed small but notable levels of lead, cadmium or, in two cases, both. The concern with these metals in glassware is routine exposure over weeks or months, even if any one dose that goes from a kid’s hands to their mouth on food or by licking is small.
Lead has long been known to damage young brains; recent research suggests cadmium can do the same. Cadmium also can harm kidneys and bones, especially if it accumulates over time.
The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate(at)ap.org
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