Confectionery Giant Mondelēz International Reaches Settlement after Lead Found in Ginger Snaps
SANTA CLARA COUNTY — The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is announcing the settlement with a cookie manufacturer to cease production of ginger snap cookies after toxic levels of lead were discovered in the product.
According to Yen Dang, Supervising Deputy District Attorney with the Consumer Protection Unit, toxicity levels in the product were so high that Mondelēz International was issued a written warning.
Mondelēz is the world’s largest manufacturer of processed snack foods, specializing in top brands such as Nabisco, Oreo, Cadbury, and Trident. The lawsuit specifically names Nabisco brand ginger snaps after testing revealed toxicity levels of up to nine times the limit per serving.
According to California Proposition 65, lead exposure should be less than 0.5 micrograms per serving per day without a warning.
Ten District Attorney’s Offices and the Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation in 2013 after being alerted by the non-profit Center for Environmental Health that high levels of lead had been discovered in products containing ginger, Dang said. Investigation revealed that the ingredients of ginger and molasses were the culprits.
Mondelēz is expected to pay a total of $758,000 in civil penalties, costs, and attorneys’ fees for the civil process ensuring that thorough testing is conducted before any product is allowed to reach the market.
Children and young adults are most at risk as prolonged ingestion of lead can lead to neurological toxic effects.
“The auditing protocols and changes in supplier specifications by a company as large as Mondelēz should have a significant impact on the way other companies screen for lead in processed foods,” Dang said.