High Levels of Lead Detected in Lunchables, Report Reveals

Parents have been warned to not give their kids the popular Lunchables snack, at least until the company does something about the kits.

On Tuesday, consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports released a new report that showed it tested 12 different versions of the Lunchables that they purchased in stores. In addition to those snack items that are made by Kraft Heinz, Consumer Reports also purchased similar snack kits, finding “relatively high levels of lead and cadmium” in the Lunchables.

Cadmium is a chemical element that is linked to some negative effects on both the kidney as well as the respiratory and skeletal systems. The World Health Organization also classifies it as a human carcinogenic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes that there isn’t a safe level of lead for children.

In addition, Consumer Reports highlighted that the levels of sodium that are in the snack kits range anywhere from 460 through 740 milligrams per serving. That’s anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of what the daily recommended limit for sodium is for children.

Of all the kits that were tested, only one didn’t contain phthalates, which are harmful chemicals that are also found in plastic and can be linked to some cancers, diabetes and reproductive issues.

Consumer Reports also tested Lunchable kits that are given to children through the National School Lunch Program. The levels of sodium in these kits, which typically have a larger portion of meat in them, are even higher than the versions that are bought in schools.

For instance, the school version of turkey and cheddar contains 930 milligrams of sodium, and the pizza one for school has 700 milligrams of sodium.

A spokesperson for Kraft Heinz responded by saying that the Lunchables products they create have a “good source of protein” and offer some nutrients through the cheeses and meats in them.

Referring to a sodium reduction of 26% in the crackers that are contained in these kits, the spokesperson said:

“We’ve taken great steps to improve the nutrition profile of Lunchables. All our foods meet strict safety standards that we happily feed to our own families. We are proud of Lunchables and stand by the quality and integrity that goes into making them.”

As a result of their findings, Consumer Reports started a petition that calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove Lunchables from the National School Lunch Program. As of Tuesday night, it had already garnered more than 12,000 signatures.

Brian Ronholm, CR’s director of food policy, commented:

“Lunchables are not a healthy option for kids and shouldn’t be allowed on the menu as part of the National School Lunch Program.”

A spokesperson for the USDA responded to media outlet The Hill, saying they take the responsibility “very seriously” to ensure “school meals are of the highest nutritional quality.”

The spokesperson added:

“Importantly, USDA doesn’t allow or disallow individual food items. Our requirements address the overall content of meals — some of them on a daily basis and others on a weekly basis.”