State health officials are warning consumers about possible lead contamination from imported tamarind and chili candy, as well as from handmade...

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State health officials are warning consumers about possible lead contamination from imported tamarind and chili candy, as well as from handmade terra cotta pottery from Mexico.

The warning said the danger is especially critical for youngsters and pregnant women. Exposure to lead can be poisonous, and children and developing fetuses are more susceptible. Lead contamination or poisoning can lead to behavioral disorders or learning disabilities, the state Department of Health said.

The warning is directed at any candy from Mexico and Southeast Asia that lists tamarind or chili powder as part of its name or among its ingredients.

Health officials said tests of several brands from Mexico, Thailand and Malaysia, sold in Washington state, showed about half exceeded recommended maximum levels for lead, according to the Health Department.

Because two pieces of candy from the same bag sometimes showed different lead levels, the department is warning against all such candy, regardless of the brand.

Authorities also tested 58 samples of traditional pottery made in Mexico, purchased from stores throughout the state.

Some of the pottery was stamped “not safe for food use” but other samples were marked “lead-free.” Tests showed unsafe levels of lead in 47 of the 58 items.

The department is warning consumers to use such pottery only for decoration and not for storing or cooking food.

There have been no documented lead-poisoning cases in the state resulting from such candy or pottery, said a Health Department spokeswoman.

The testing was done after lead-contaminated candy was found in California, Oregon and Missouri, said epidemiologist Eric Ossiander.

Florangela Davila: 206-464-2916 or fdavila@seattletimes.com