There are confirmed child and adult cases of lead poisoning related to
ingesting a product generically called “sindoor.” Though it is not intended to
be food, sindoor nevertheless might be used by some as a food additive. It is
more typically used as a cosmetic and in certain religious ceremonies.
Traditionally, Hindu, and some Sikh, married women wear sindoor, a red powder,
in the parting of their hair to indicate marital status.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert on Dec. 17, 2007, warning
consumers not to use the Swad brand sindoor product because testing conducted by
the Illinois Department of Public Health indicated this product contained very
high levels of lead, sometimes as high as 87%.
In January 2008, Raja Foods, importer of Swad products into the United States,
issued a nationwide recall of sindoor and several other Swad products due to
their high lead content.
An FDA news release about the recall
is posted on the FDA website. Other brands of
sindoor also have been associated with elevated blood lead levels in
individuals. Several states, including New York, Illinois, Georgia, and
Minnesota also have issued recalls or alerts for Swad sindoor.
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