kimberlychapman (kimberlychapman) wrote,

Is there lead in Crock Pot glaze?

If you Google around about Rival Crock Pots and lead, you'll find tons of links saying that there is lead in the glaze of the ceramic portion. A reporter even had some tested a few years ago and apparently found that there was not only lead in the glaze, but that under heating conditions it was coming out into the food.

Since reading that some time ago, Corran and I have stopped using our Crock Pot.

I emailled Rival about it months and months ago, at least twice. I asked them to confirm or deny the rumours. I never heard back. I had been meaning to send them a letter, but kept forgetting or not having enough time. But this week I sat down to finally do it, only to discover that their website no longer has their mailing address. They want you to phone for it, and the phone message doesn't include the address; you have to call during business hours (Eastern Time) and actually speak to a representative.

So today I did just that. I sat with a Notepad window open to record the information. Disclaimer: I'm a pretty fast typist but when I type notes during conversation, it is possible that the occasional word is not exact or in precise order. However, I will firmly attest to the overall accuracy and meaning of this transcription.

January 28, 2009

First phone call placed at 2:42 pm CST. After going through opening menu, the call is dropped.

2:44 pm CST, I call back and go through the menu again. I am placed in the queue to talk to a representative.

I listen to the music and become amused to hear the Split Enz song "I Got You" come on. For kicks I type out some of the lyrics that eerily match how I feel about lead in my Crock Pot:

Something's wrong, I feel uneasy
You show me, tell me you're not teasing
I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes
Can you tell me you're not lying?

At 2:52 Kaisha answers. I explain to her that my emails have been unanswered and she apologizes for this. I say that I know it's not her fault, but that I'd like a firm answer on my question.

"I've read online that Rival Crock Pots have lead in the glaze of the ceramic portion," I said.

"No Ma'am," she said.

"No?" I asked.

"There is no lead in our products," she said.

"No lead at all?" I asked.

"It's under the FDA regulation," she said.

"Oh, so there is some lead but it's an allowable amount under the FDA regulation?" I asked.

She stammered for a moment, then said, "It's in the, you know, I can look that up. I was just looking...can I put you on hold for a moment? It'll just be a moment while I look that up for you."

I said okay. She thanked me. There was a click, then the busy signal. The call had been dropped again.

At 2:53 I called back and once again was put in the queue. Once more, the music was oddly apropos, so I typed out some more lyrics, this time from "Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones:

And do you feel scared?
I do!
But I won't stop and falter
And if we throw it all away
Things can only get better

Indeed, we've been wondering if we should throw the Crock Pot away if it has lead, because it's not good to put lead into the landfill, but we couldn't in good conscience Freecycle it or donate it, so we don't know what to do if it has lead.

At 3:01 Jessica picked up the call. I explained the backstory again, including that the call with Kaisha had been dropped.

"What I really want to know is if there's any lead in the Crock Pot glaze," I said.

"I'm pretty sure there's not, but I can check for you. Can I put you on hold for a second?" Jessica asked.

"Okay, but I hope I won't get disconnected again," I said.

"Oh no, you won't. Just a sec."

At 3:02 she came back.

"Sorry about that. No there is not. The FDA checks all of our pots," she said.

"Okay, but is there lead and it's just less than the FDA allowable amount, or are they certified lead-free?"

"There's no lead at all."

"Wow, okay, that contradicts what I've read online. Thanks."

"Thank you ma'am. Have a nice day." Then Jessica hung up before I had a chance to remember to ask for the postal address.

I want to make it clear that both reps were pleasant, and I don't think Kaisha meant to disconnect the call. I think their phone system is just wonky (and their music system highly ironic).

So there you have it: their customer service representatives say they're lead-free, although didn't confirm being certified lead-free. They're saying that they don't have any lead at all, not just less than the FDA allowable amount (which, according to the link above, is anything less than 2.0 ppm).

The thing is, I'm not sure I believe it; not enough to risk my family's health. So I'm not sure what I should do next. Do I bother to waste the time and money on a lead testing kit? The Consumer Reports article about lead test kits from September 2008 was for testing your home's paint, not ceramic glaze, so I don't even know if that information applies, but they indicated that they weren't the easiest things in the world to use.

Maybe I should send a letter to Consumer Reports to ask. Perhaps I'll start with the Consumerist blog since Consumer Reports bought them recently.

Beyond that, I don't suppose there's anyone reading who has the ability to conclusively test for lead in a glaze who wants to go ahead and run the test and share the results with us?
Tags: activism, consumer, environment, health
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