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Bulk paprika may pose lead poisoning risk

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department’s Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program urges caution when purchasing and using bulk paprika.

During a routine investigation prompted by a local case of a lead-poisoned child, department officials found lead-contaminated paprika being sold at a number of local grocery stores. The spices paprika, sweet paprika, smoked paprika and Hungarian paprika were sold in bulk in unlabeled bins. The contaminated spices were traced to a common in-state distributor. The paprika was immediately removed from sale locally and at the distributor.

The Health Department recommends the following precautions:

    • Only buy paprika that is in a clearly labeled container.

    • Discard previously purchased unlabeled bulk paprika.

    • Consult your health care provider if you suspect you have eaten contaminated paprika.

    • All children six years of age and younger should have a blood lead test every year.

    • Pregnant women should have a lead test once during their pregnancy.

Bulk spices, especially paprika and turmeric, are often found to be contaminated with lead. The product may be contaminated by growing in lead-contaminated soil, during the drying process or during packaging. In some situations, lead has been added to a spice to preserve color.

Lead exposure can cause serious health issues including learning disabilities and brain, kidney and cardiovascular damage. High doses of lead may cause seizures and death.

Questions about lead-contaminated spices should be directed to the Health Department’s Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 816-513-6048.

Media inquiries on this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, public information officer, at 816-840-2548 (pager). Follow the Health Department on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at, and


City News Releases - 2012

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