So it turns out there is something you can add to the popular spice turmeric to make it bright yellow–something that consumers seem to be big on. The problem is, the ‘something’ you add is lead–a potent neurotoxin that is dangerous at any level due to its link with brain and heart disease and cognitive damage.
Results from a new study reveal that turmeric — a commonly used spice for food and celebratory body paints and often sold as a healing agent and health booster– is sometimes adulterated with a lead-laced chemical compound in Bangladesh, one of the world’s predominant turmeric-growing regions.
Are you ingesting adulterated turmeric?
If you live in Bangladesh there is an increased likelihood you are ingesting turmeric that is adulterated with lead. (At last testing, 30 percent of pregnant women in the area had elevated lead levels in their blood.)
If you live outside Bangladesh, it is a crap-shoot. The problem becomes especially dicey given the wide availability of turmeric sold online (amazon.com alone offers over 10,000 products containing turmeric). According to the Stanford University scientists conducting the research, “the current system of periodic food safety checks may catch only a fraction of the adulterated turmeric being traded worldwide.” Since 2011, more than 15 brands of turmeric — distributed to countries including the U.S. — have been recalled due to excessive levels of lead.
Journal Reference: Jenna E. Forsyth, Syeda Nurunnahar, Sheikh Shariful Islam, Musa Baker, Dalia Yeasmin, M. Saiful Islam, Mahbubur Rahman, Scott Fendorf, Nicole M. Ardoin, Peter J. Winch, Stephen P. Luby. Turmeric means “yellow” in Bengali: Lead chromate pigments added to turmeric threaten public health across Bangladesh. Environmental Research, 2019; 179: 108722 DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2019.108722