In 2001, a group of concerned parents in Southern California noticed that a certain lollipop popular in their community markets was recalled due to high levels of lead. They approached a local grassroots organization – the Environmental Health Coalition – with a request to test a wider range of candies. When initial results tested positive, the Orange County Register was approached about conducting an investigative report. They found a high rate of unsafe lead levels in candies specifically prevalent in local community stores.
In 2004, the group filed suit against many major candy manufacturers, demanding they fall in line with California’s strict food safety requirements (Proposition 65) voted into law in 1986. The lawsuit – and resultant settlement – showed regulators knew for more than a decade about contaminated candies linked to lead-poisoned children, but that they did little to inform the public or recall the products from shelves.
A combination of a strong civil justice system and the state’s tough food safety requirements are to thank for removing unsafe candy from California’s shelves. Now the three largest defendants in the suit have since modified their recipes to replace the lead-tainted ingredients, keeping the state’s children safer from the deleterious effects of lead on their health.
Please carefully examine any candy that your children bring home—-especially children under the age of 10.