First a bunch of images to start!
We took this picture (above) in response to this sticker on the box (since Charlie is my “little one”) So that we could post the picture online and tag Tabor Place to make sure they saw that their current bottles tested positive for Lead.
The painted measurement markings [which are accessible to the child using these products] test positive for both Lead and Cadmium, at levels considered to be unsafe for children. This is for bottles purchased directly from the company in June of 2022.
From the Tabor Place TikTok Channel – note the hashtags!
June 17, 2022 – Friday
Section #1) Background – why I tested this bottle
I hadn’t yet heard of this bottle / sippy cup brand until just a couple of weeks ago… A mama in my Lead-Poisoning Prevention Facebook group shared that her baby tested positive, with an unexplained positive Blood Lead Level (BLL) — unexplained, meaning they had not been able not find any possible exposure sources of Lead in their home.
This mama thought to test the glass Tabor Place baby bottle / sippy cup insert that she was using for her child [this initial testing was done just using a reactive agent home test kit] — and the paint on the outside of the glass tested positive for Lead (with a pink qualitative positive result). She wasn’t 100% sure if it was a “true” positive— because the paint on the glass is red (see the third picture at the top of this page), and sometimes the pink results of the swabs can be confusing/ambiguous if the paint that is being tested is red or pink. The home test kit result looked positive to my trained eye (from the photos she shared), so I immediately purchased a set of these bottles [purchased directly from the manufacturer] and had them sent to me (shipping order below) for accurate quantitative testing, using a high-precision XRF analyzer.
I also went online that day and got a ton of screen captures from the company’s website – where they state that the products are “non-toxic” — and include language specifically implying the products are free of any Lead and/or Cadmium hazards – you can see some of those below.
Continue reading below the two images of screenshots from their website.
Section #2) Lead Safe Mama, LLC Preliminary Testing & Social Media Response
As I have been traveling, helping families of Lead-poisoned children in person over the past couple of weeks, tonight (6/17/22) was actually my first opportunity to test these bottles [using XRF technology – you can learn more about that testing method here – it is the same method (and the same specific make and model of instrument!) used by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission to screen consumer goods for toxic heavy metals] and these sippy cup / baby bottle inserts instantly tested positive for both Lead and Cadmium in several preliminary tests.
Once I found out that the paint on these bottles was positive for Lead and Cadmium, I made a little video (the first of three posted so far), and took some pictures for TikTok, and Instagram, and published those while I continued to work on this post and to do some additional testing (while also filming that process).
Here’s the first post video from Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Section #3) What are Tabor Place’s claims?
After I posted the first video (above, with my son Charlie), I dug around a little more online — and saw Tabor Place’s “non-toxic” and “Lead-free” claims reiterated on YouTube, Instagram, and elsewhere on social media. The image below is from their Instagram page and states that the products are “non-toxic.”
Section #4) Is this a small business?
An effort to try to understand this company / their background / their capacity for understanding and honoring the non-toxic claims they have made about their products.
Given Tabor Place’s social media channels had so few followers, and their videos and posts have almost no interactions, I began questioning whether or not this was a large business or small business (or possibly a business re-selling products made by others). I was really unclear about this — given their social media footprint is so small (and the products have apparently been for sale for about two years).
Most non-toxic products seem to have a much bigger following on social media especially if they are a small USA-based business (which is considered to be a valuable quality by parents looking for safer choices for their families.) The demand for non-toxic products is significant and new companies tend to build a loyal following pretty quickly. Tabor Place’s small social media following made me question the legitimacy of their business and specifically the legitimacy of their testing claims (considerations that came up when these factors were viewed in conjunction with the Lead Safe Mama, LLC test results of their products.)
As of this moment they have 707 Instagram followers:
Their Facebook page only has 92 likes and 95 followers as of the time of publishing this
To be clear – these stats may not mean anything on their own (social media is certainly not the end-all, be-all of any business!) but the stats do suggest that Tabor Place could be a very small business, that may not have the capacity to understand the limits of the product testing that they have had done – nor the capacity to fully understand the need to periodically repeat the testing they have had done with appropriate frequency – especially with any manufacturing / supply chain changes (to ensure each batch produced meets the standards they have established and advertised on their website and across social media.) It’s also possible that – as a small business – they did not know how to properly vet the lab that they chose to do their testing (for example asking the lab about their testing methodologies for each component, their low threshold of detection, their margin of error, their experience testing similar products, etc.)
Finally their TikTok Channel only has 31 likes and 12 followers — a bit unusual, given their marketing claim is specifically “internet”-based (“best glass sippy cup on the internet”).
So yes – these considerations together made me question the capacity of this company to handle (to manage and to oversee) their claims that their products are non-toxic.
I HATE that this appears to be a woman-owned small business (it’s never my goal to take down another woman trying to do good in the world)! BUT there is also a bit of a contradiction apparent here (just in trying to understand the scope of this business and the degree to which they might understand and have the capacity to be responsible for their own claims.) While their social media presence seems relatively insignificant, their products are available for purchase on Amazon, and on Walmart‘s site [Note: the bottles I tested were purchased directly from the company’s website – not from either of these giant vendors]… so, in spite of Tabor Place’s social media stats – it is possible that this is actually NOT a tiny company (you have to have a certain amount of volume to be on Walmart’s site!)
In any case (regardless of the size of the business) all companies need to be accountable for the safety and toxicant profile of baby products they manufacture. However given Tabor Place is big enough to sell on Walmart’s website (with slick marketing images, no less), I believe they certainly should be expected to understand their responsibilities as a manufacturer of baby products (especially as it relates to their marketing claims) – as should any vendor who sells through Walmart’s site. With this context, if their non-toxic claims are proven to be false (as they have been with the work published here today on LeadSafeMama.com) – their best course of action would be to swiftly alert the public of the concern (getting these products out of the hands of babies), which unfortunately puts the company in the position of needing to manage the fallout — damage-control — for not having overseen compliance with their advertising / marketing claims (in terms of their supply chain / manufacturing sources, and ultimately, the ingredients of their products). Unfortunately that has not been their response today (Saturday, June 18 – 2022) – their response (deflection, denial) can be seen on our Instagram page.
Continue reading below the image – showing these products available for sale on Walmart’s site.
4.a. What is the context for mentioning all of this?
Does size matter?
In re-reading and editing this section I was trying to evaluate what point I wanted to make and if I had made it clearly. I guess if I were to summarize this section I would say that “size matters”. When buying ANYTHING for your child to use on a daily basis. it is import that you do your research. Read reviews and evaluate the company. If any thing about the company seems incongruous – perhaps you may want to look for another product from another company. A larger company with a bigger following is more likely to have the capacity to ensure their marketing claims are legitimate. There are exceptions to this of course (Nuk baby bottles for one!) but it is a good place to start in evaluating any choices for your family.
Section #5) This IS an URGENT concern that needed to be reported immediately – my waiting for a response from the company (given the nature of the product) would have been indefensibly irresponsible.
Whether or not this is a small business (and whether or not it is run by a woman whose intentions in creating these products were earnest / pure and noble) is fundamentally an irrelevant consideration at this point. This is a baby bottle / sippy cup intended for use by young children – and is also a product that tested positive for both LEAD and CADMIUM in the exterior paint that is accessible to the child when they hold the cup. While it may seem unfair to put a “small” company “on blast” for selling a toxic product, please note that I did write the company an e-mail — and have not yet heard back [UPDATE (at 2:00 p.m. on June 18th): the only response I have received is via an instagram message – with no person’s name attached to the message].
This is an urgent concern for two reasons:
- FALSE ADVERTISING: The videos and marketing materials from this company (see the second video I made – below – with content from Tabor Place’s TikTok, below) clearly and explicitly state specifically that the PAINT on the EXTERIOR of these bottles (the red painted measurement markings) are “free of both Lead and Cadmium”. This is simply not true (at least for the random sample of the current product I obtained for testing directly from the company). This paint tested positive for unsafe levels of both Lead and Cadmium (in the example I purchased directly from the company in June of 2022).
- False advertising may seem like a sensational claim, or a technicality – but it is very important as EVERY SINGLE LEAD SAFE MAMA READER who has contacted me to tell me that they purchase these bottles has said that they specifically purchased them because of these claims — which, at least in the case of the ones I tested, are incontrovertibly untrue. This is an immediate erosion of trust for the customers of this brand.
- ACTUAL POTENTIAL HARM FROM LEAD- AND CADMIUM-CONTAINING PAINT: Lead-containing and Cadmium-containing paint on the exterior of glassware (in decorative or measurement markings) has been scientifically proven (over and over again) to have the potential to cause harm to the user of the product (child or adult.) Here is a link to a study from England from 2017. Here is a link to an article from Cracked.com from earlier this year – an article which links to lots of great science and research dating back to the 1970s. I really shouldn’t have to get into this here (over, and over, and over again! – on so many articles here on this website). This is SETTLED SCIENCE.
- Part of point #2 above – that I think is important to mention and highlight is that the exposure path is from babies’ wet sticky fingers touching the outside of their bottle (repeatedly / habitually / daily / over months and / or years) and then engaging in NORMAL, APPROPRIATE, ANTICIPATED hand-to-mouth behavior. The concern is for micro-particulate Lead (& Cadmium) to migrate into their bodies through this anticipated behavior (when the product is used as intended). The amount of Lead that it takes to poison a child is microscopic — literally invisible — and daily exposure can cause persistent chronic Lead-poisoning (perhaps at levels below what is detected in the majority of modern blood lead tests, but levels that are nonetheless now understood to be both significant and proven capable of causing permanent harm). The potential for exposure can be exacerbated when baby bottles and sippy cups are cleaned using bottle cleaning steamers or boiling, which can cause the paint to deteriorate more rapidly than were these cleaning methods not used (i.e. if these painted markings were on some hypothetical other sort of consumer product — one not routinely subjected to heat and/or steam).
While I did send a quick note to the company (email screenshot below), I did not wait to hear back and have a conversation with them. I felt it was important to write this post and publish it immediately so that folks who own these bottles (and use them with their infants and toddlers) know to stop using them immediately (until further notice) while we wait for the company to respond and see if we can dig a little deeper to find out if this is a batch-specific issue (i.e. if only a certain segment of their products are painted with Lead and Cadmium-containing paint), or if this might be an issue across their entire history and across their full product line.
In addition to the email above – I also tagged Tabor Place in the videos and images (and my accompanying text noting that parents should stop using these products immediately), on both Instagram and TikTok. They never responded to my email.
Section #6) A deeper dive on the False Advertising issue – outright falsehoods / misstatements of fact on a TikTok video published by the company (see video below.)
Speaking of TikTok – after reviewing a lot of material from Tabor Place that I was able to easily find online, I was particularly incensed by the owner’s video stating that the bottles are – specifically – free of Lead and Cadmium in the paint – when that is 100% not true of the examples I tested! So after the first video I made (the one above with my son Charlie – who was caught on-camera being quite dismayed that these are painted with Lead paint), I made a second video – integrating the Tabor Place owner’s video with my comments (for TikTok specifically, and I uploaded it to Instagram and YouTube.) Here’s that second video (I am still working on getting familiar with the TikTok medium – sorry if this is a bit juvenile!):
View this post on Instagram
Positive for both Lead AND Cadmium
I will write out the full XRF test results for the bottles here shortly (the exterior red painted markings tested positive for both Lead and Cadmium – and the video – the third video, below shows those readings). The final Lead levels were above 4,000 ppm in the paint. The hazard level for Lead in the paint, glaze or coating of an item manufactured expressly for use by children set by the US CPSC at 90 ppm Lead (anything that has Lead in the paint at levels of 90 ppm and above is considered illegal and unsafe for items intended for use by children). The video below (Video #3)- showing the actual XRF testing of these sippy cup / baby bottle inserts has also been posted on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok:
View this post on Instagram
Section #7) How do we explain the discrepancy?
“I don’t understand. The company has testing that they have published on their site, how is it that your results differ so significantly from theirs?”
So…there are a few different scenarios for ways this could have happened, and one could easily start by speculating in an attempt to deflect blame from the manufacturer of the products (Tabor Place) — but in the end, wherever the gap lies, the company needs to be held accountable for their mistakes. Here are some possible scenarios for how it could have happened that a company that INSISTS the paint on their products is “free of Lead and Cadmium” ended up with paint that is positive for — high / unsafe levels of — both Lead and Cadmium:
- Batch Issues: It is possible this issue is limited to the batch I purchased and tested this month. HOWEVER, the reason this issue was brought to my attention was because a mother of a kiddo who tested positive for Lead also had one of these bottles which tested positive with a home test kit [I will update this ASAP when I find out the purchase date of her products]; I think it would be safe to assume that IF this is a BATCH SPECIFIC issue, it is a “batch” that chronologically spans both the products available for sale today (direct from the company) and the item purchased & tested by the mother who brought this potential concern to my attention.
- A lack of understanding of the testing done by the manufacturer: This is more common than you might imagine! Many manufacturers of products intended for use with food get testing done on their food-use products that only includes leach testing for the presence of toxic metals. This method of testing normally only includes the interior of a vessel and almost never includes concerns for the presence of toxicants on the outside of a vessel. This argument would seem to be not applicable here, given the manufacturer (the owner of Tabor Place) specifically claims that she had the exterior paint tested and that it tested negative for Lead and Cadmium.
- Fraudulent Testing: While this is very rare – it is possible that the testing company that did this work for Tabor Place did not do the testing appropriately to determine the presence or absence of heavy metals.
In the end, it is important to know that there is no question about the scientific validity/reproducibility of Lead Safe Mama, LLC’s test results (done using XRF technology – with a consumer goods-specific, freshly-calibrated instrument, optimal configuration, and methodology) so we have to look on her end (Tabor Place’s side) to see what happened. All test results reported on this website are (as always) science-based, accurate and replicable.
Section #8) What the company should do now
I have written some variation of this on dozens of articles over the year – but the focus is always the same: identifying the scope of the problem, fixing the problem and making things right for each and every customer impacted by the problem. Here are some recommended steps for Tabor Place.
- Immediately inform your customer base (on social media, your website and via e-mail) that unknown to you a problem has been discovered with your products – thanks to the work of a community of independent activists for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety (our business model here, FYI! – everything here on Lead Safe Mama, LLC is a collaboration with our readers!) Ask your customer base to STOP using your products until further notice.
- Cease selling the products until you have identified which products are impacted by the issue.
- Start an immediate inquiry into determining the range of products (style and manufacture date) impacted by the problem and into determining the source of the problem (your testing agency? your paint source? your manufacturing plant in China?)
- Fix the problem.
- Once the problem is fixed offer everyone impacted either a refund or a replacement product.
- Destroy all impacted product so that it cannot be used by a child in the future.
- Apologize (a nice touch): apologize for your initial dismissal of the concern which de-prioritized the health and well being of the children who use your products.
- Promise to do better in the future (consider sending random batch samples to Lead Safe Mama, LLC – or another independent agency for periodic testing to confirm safety.)
IF Tabor Place follows this (FREE!) advice they will be seen as a hero, not as a company not willing to do the right thing. Regardless of who is at fault for the issue – the only one that can fix it and make things right is Tabor Place.
Section #9) What should parents do?
If you have been using these Tabor Place products with your child, the following course of action would be prudent:
- Get a blood Lead test for your child on Monday if they have not been tested recently. Tell the doctor you suspect a possible source of exposure. There is no science available to back whether or not the use of these specific cups may have caused a detectable blood lead level in your child, however I have heard from two parents recently now who used these cups and did not have any other source of exposure yet whose child did test positive for Lead in their blood (at levels below 2 micrograms per deciliter but still positive.) Here is an article that you might find helpful discussing the potential impacts of low level lead exposure.
- Don’t worry. Worry never helps, move forward. Here’s an article I wrote about that.
- Get new baby bottles / sippy cups for your child. There is a link below that has suggestions for Lead-free choices (as tested by Lead Safe Mama, LLC) OR you can use the search bar on this website (it is on every page) to look up the various brands we have tested and the specific test results for those brands. This little (16-minute) video shows you how to search the 3,300 posts and pages of information on this website – all of which is freely available information – brought to you by the mothers (and fathers and grandparents and aunts and uncles) in the Lead Safe Mama community!
Section #10) But isn’t this illegal?
A. Nope – it’s not illegal!
Unfortunately the CPSC does not consider it illegal for the paint or coating of a baby bottle or sippy cup (in decorative elements or measurement markings) to have unsafe levels of Lead. I have been making complaints to the CPSC about this issue since I first discovered it was a problem – about 2017 – and they have not issued one single recall for Lead-positive (or Cadmium-positive) baby feeding products. I wrote an overview post about this (which I submitted to the CPSC) on this link here. I have found no fewer than 9 brands of baby or child feeding products that have been positive for unsafe Levels of Lead. The only way we are going to effect change in this area is to create outrage and demand change as consumers – starting with demanding change from the manufacturers of these products. Please check out all of the links below to similar products that we have tested and found to have Lead.
Below is an additional image of my son Charlie holding the bottle. Again – I took these pictures of him holding the bottles for Instagram since Tabor Place includes a sticker (image above) on their packaging inviting purchases to share a photo of their “Little One” holding these bottles -tagging the company (with the little twist being that our videos and pictures noted that the bottles have Lead paint and are unsafe for children). Charlie is my “little one”. He is 6 ft 1 inch tall and 13 years old. He was Lead poisoned in utero and later poisoned from exposure to microscopic amounts of Lead in dust in our 1905 home.
This post will be updated shortly with a write up of the full exact test results (which can seen in the video #3 above) – but again I wanted to get this information out there IMMEDIATELY because I don’t want any children to be using this product and I hope you will help me spread the word.
Thank you for reading and – most important – for sharing this information.
Owner – Lead Safe Mama, LLC
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children
Some additional reading that may be of interest
This is not an isolated incident but the CPSC refuses to take action
- Lead paint found on NUK baby bottles
- Lead paint found on Lansinoh baby bottles
- Lead paint found on Green Sprouts sippy cups
- Lead paint found on Pigeon-brand baby bottles
- Request to CPSC to address this and issue a mandatory recall
- Lead found on Pura Kiki insulated baby bottles
- Lead paint found on Hevea baby bottles
- Lead found on Paulie Jar sippy cups (sold by Mighty Nest)
- Lead paint found on Jervis & George baby food jars
For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-Federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. Tamara’s sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in August of 2005. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. Tamara uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals), including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic. All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items (and separate components) are each tested multiple times, to confirm the test results for each component tested and reported on. Please click through to this link to learn more about the testing methodology used for the test results discussed and reported on this website.