Across Mexico every day, millions of meals served in homes and restaurants come with an extra, unseen ingredient — toxic lead.
Want lead-free food?
The Casa de Campo restaurant, housed in a 260 year-old building in Cuernavaca’s historic downtown in Morelos state, is the first restaurant to go lead-free under the Barro Aprobado program launched by Pure Earth and partners.
This means that the restaurant is only using traditional Mexican pottery that has been certified lead-free to cook and serve food.
“We are very excited that the food prepared in this building will be lead-free, quite probably for the first time in over two centuries,” says Daniel Estrada, who oversees the Barro Aprobado lead-free pottery project for Pure Earth in Mexico.
Most traditional pottery used in homes and restaurants across the country are produced by local artisans using toxic lead glazes. Of the estimated 10,000 to 50,000 pottery workshops across the country, only about 100 are lead free.
Because of the widespread use of leaded pottery, up to 20% of the population of Mexico have blood lead levels above the WHO standard of 5 ug/dl.
- The average blood lead level in Mexico City, where traditional pottery is used less often, is 8 ug/dl.
- Elsewhere across Mexico, the average blood lead level is about 10 ug/dl.
- Among lead-glaze based pottery artisans, the average blood lead level is 26 ug/dl and can reach as high as 65.
The Barro Aprobado program is working with local potters to get them to switch to a cheaper, lead-free glaze. At the same time, the program is introducing these lead-free potters to restaurant owners to show that there is a demand for lead-free pottery.
“We are hoping that these relationships will lead to more restaurants replacing their leaded pottery with lead-free ones that are produced by local traditional potters they know and trust,” says Daniel.
The Barro Aprobado program is also giving out free lead test kits to about 100 stores so that customers can be guaranteed that what they buy is truly lead-free.
- Learn more about Barro Aprobado
- Spanish language website: http://barroaprobado.org/ (includes list of lead-free restaurants and shops)
- Watch Homero Aridjis’ Heartfelt Plea for a Lead-Free Mexico (VIDEO)
- Fact Sheet: Mexico’s 500 Year-Old Problem (with inforgraphic)
- Why are Millions of Children in Mexico Still Suffering from Lead Poisoning?(Huffington Post)
- VIDEO: News report from Mexican TV about the national problem (Spanish with English subtitles)
- See Spanish news coverage of “Barro Aprobado”