​For release on January 22, 2016   CONTACT:
Yen Dang, Supervising Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
(408) 792-2818   FOOD GIANT SETTLES CONSUMER LAWSUIT OVER LEAD IN COOKIES   Settling a lawsuit with state prosecutors including the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, food industry giant Mondelēz International will cease selling ginger snaps cookies containing levels of lead so high that they require a written warning.
Mondelēz is the world’s largest manufacturer of processed snack foods. Mondelēz brands include Nabisco, Oreo, Cadbury, and Trident. Nabisco brand Ginger Snaps cookies were the subject of the lawsuit. Testing of the Nabisco Ginger Snaps revealed lead levels up to nine times the limit in one serving. 
The settlement has a potential worldwide impact on the safety of processed snack foods.     District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: “Public health is paramount. I’m pleased that this business has taken responsibility and taken steps to make sure their snacks are safe.” 
Ten district attorney’s offices and the Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation of Nabisco Ginger Snaps in 2013 after being alerted by a non-profit Center for Environmental Health investigation into high lead levels in products containing ginger. Lead sources in the cookies were linked to supplies of molasses and ginger. 
Mondelēz has agreed in the judgment to strict testing protocols that limit lead in its Nabisco Ginger Snaps cookies to no more than 30 parts per billion per serving. The company has also agreed to fund ongoing independent auditing of its products for lead, and will monitor supply chains to ensure raw materials are within acceptable limits for lead. Mondelēz will also pay a total of $758,000 in civil penalties, costs, and attorneys’ fees. 
The auditing protocols and changes in supplier specifications by a company as large as Mondelēz should have a significant impact on the way other companies screen for lead in processed foods. Lead is a neurotoxin that affects virtually every organ system, primarily the central nervous system, and particularly the developing brain. Children are at a greater risk than adults of suffering from the neurotoxic effects of lead. While no safe lead exposure threshold has been identified, California’s Proposition 65 limits lead exposure to .5 micrograms per serving per day without a warning.   # # #

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