LAS VEGAS (AP) - University of Nevada-Las Vegas researchers have found that several hot sauce brands sold in the U.S. contain dangerous levels of lead.
In what the university describes as a first-of-its-kind study, researchers examined 25 bottles of hot sauce imported from Mexico and South America and purchased from local ethnic markets, grocery stores, and a swap meet.
The results were released last week that they found that four of the bottles, or 16 percent, exceeded Food and Drug Administration standard for safe levels of lead.
Researchers Shawn Gerstenberger and Jennifer Berger Ritchie's results found Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero, El Pato Salsa Picante, Salsa Habanera, and Bufalo Salsa Clasica had high levels of lead.
The experiment was prompted by a study conducted in 2006.
That's when Gerstenberger and Ritchie found high levels of lead in Mexican-style candy, resulting in its removal in over 1,000 stores in Las Vegas.
Gerstenberger and Ritchie decided to examine Mexican hot sauces after finding similar ingredients in Mexican candy and Mexican hot sauces: peppers and high levels of salt.
Lead can get into peppers through the soil in the ground, in addition to drying peppers with a lead-based fuel.
Lead poisoning can affect every organ in the body and can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems in young children.
Gerstenberger says his results point to the need for better screening of products imported from Mexico.