Determination and Evaluation of Lead Migration for Foods Prepared in Clay Pots

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This work presents a study to evaluate the migration of lead to cooked foods prepared in clay pots produced in a small community in Brazil. Clay pots produced in Maragogipinho, Bahia, Brazil, go through an artisanal vitrification process by the addition of lead oxide to improve the visual appearance of the pot. To evaluate the migration of the lead to the food, samples of a fish-based delicacy (fish stew), with and without palm oil and coconut milk, were taken at different moments of contact with the clay container after cooking. Determination of lead concentrations was performed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), and the concentrations found were higher than 2.0 mg kg−1, which is the value regulated by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency. In addition, the highest concentrations of lead were detected in samples with a longer contact time with the pan. The longer the contact time was, the higher the lead content that migrated to the food. These results suggest that cooking and storing foods in the glazed clay pots pose a potential risk of lead contamination.

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This study would not have been possible without the comments provided by workers, teachers, and people from the Maragogipinho community, Bahia.

Funding Information

This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001. The authors are also grateful to Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado da Bahia (FAPESB) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for providing grants, fellowships, and financial support.

Author information

Correspondence to Jorge S. Almeida.

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Conflict of Interest

Manoel P. Chagas declares that he has no conflict of interest. Leonardo S. G. Teixeira declares that he has no conflict of interest. Rafael C. Santana declares that he has no conflict of interest. Alex S. N. Trindade declares that he has no conflict of interest. Isa dos S. Barbosa declares that she has no conflict of interest. Alailson F. Dantas declares that he has no conflict of interest. Maria Graças A. Korn declares that she has no conflict of interest. Jorge S. Almeida declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies involving human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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• The migration of lead to cooked foods prepared in clay pots was evaluated.

• The clay pots were purchased in pottery of a small community in Brazil.

• The clay pots were produced by an artisanal vitrification process that involves the addition of lead oxide.

• Cooking foods in the glazed clay pots pose a potential risk of lead contamination.

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Chagas, M.P., Teixeira, L.S.G., Santana, R.C. et al. Determination and Evaluation of Lead Migration for Foods Prepared in Clay Pots. Food Anal. Methods 13, 268–274 (2020).

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  • Glazed clay pots
  • Toxic metals
  • Lead determination
  • Metal migration to food