Q. Is it a problem that my garlic press is positive for Lead?
A. Why YES — in my opinion it is a BIG problem for a garlic press like this to test positive for Lead. Here’s why:
- Its intrinsic function (a tool for mechanically forcing garlic under leveraged pressure through the tiny extrusion holes in the press) will contribute to the natural wear over time of an item like this (see pictures below.)
- Garlic has been researched in scientific studies because of its many unique properties — including the fact that it specifically has the ability to extract Lead from things (most of the studies focus on the fact that it can help extract Lead from the tissues of animals who ingest Lead). [Link]
- If we (as consumers) are fundamentally using garlic for its health benefits (including Lead extraction from biological tissue/food-based “natural chelation”), a garlic press that is contaminated with a very high level of Lead makes absolutely no sense — especially when there are plenty of Lead-free alternatives.
- For context: The amount of Lead that is considered toxic in an item intended for use by children is anything 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate (base metal) of that item.
- The press pictured here was positive for 2,685 ppm Lead — and it has no protective coating (like anodization, or enamel, etc.) that would in any way inhibit the Lead from leaching from the surface.
- I’m pretty sure this would not even pass any kind of leach testing, and based on what I have learned about leach testing over the past couple years, I would venture to guess that utensils like this are not being leach tested (or at least not consistently), as they are not “vessels [like plates or bowls or pots and pans] intended to hold food“.
- I would also venture to make an educated guess that an item like this is very likely to have the potential to leach high levels of Lead into the garlic being pressed in it (even though this concern has likely not been studied by anyone – including the manufacturer).
What can you do about something like this?
- AVOID BARE METAL UTENSILS for which the metal type is not marked – especially ones like this that are a gray “pot metal” (note: every utensil or appliance attachment that I have tested made from metal that looks like this has been positive for at least some level of Lead.)
- Instead, for a garlic press, consider a choice like this stainless steel option (LINK.)* I have not tested this exact press linked here, but any all-stainless press should be a safer choice. [I would however avoid stainless garlic presses with black rubberized handles as the handle material often contains low levels of Lead and/or Cadmium.
- Personally I do not use a garlic press, I like to chop my garlic up very fine with a sharp knife, so that’s an option too. Here’s a link to some of my favorite knives.
- Here’s another option for crushing garlic [Link]. This particular product I tested was low-lead (likely had Lead-free glaze), but I would be careful not to choose a product like this with colorful glaze or made in another country – as the potential for this sort of garlic crusher to have a lot of Lead in the glaze is fairly high.
When tested with an XRF instrument the gray bare metal garlic press pictured here had the following readings:
- Lead (Pb): 2,685 +/- 113 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 33 +/- 11 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 66 +/- 26 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 529 +/- 35 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 27,800 +/- 900 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 41,600 +/- 1,300 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 1,152 +/- 119 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 11,700 +/- 500 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 311 +/- 77 ppm
- Silver (Ag): 19 +/- 8 ppm
- Magnesium (Mn): 2,536 +/- 319 ppm
- If a metal is not listed it was not detected by the XRF.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
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