Lead in Hamilton Beach crock pots

Mislead: America’s Secret Epidemic is always testing items & posting the results, she recently tested a Hamilton Beach crockpot & it came back with a reading of 20-30ppm lead, which is very low. BUT, their website FAQ claimed they contained “no measurable amounts of lead”. So I wrote to them, and here is their response. This also goes to show the at home swab test kits aren’t all that accurate, as I tested mine on a chipped spot & it didn’t register any lead. Even though they come with instructions for testing all kinds of surfaces, Tamara says they really can only be relied on for testing paint. Here is Tamara’s post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=614952988623109&set=a.452063581578718.1073741828.195674253884320&type=1&theater

Response from Hamilton Beach: ” Thank you very much for bringing this poorly-worded FAQ answer to our attention and allowing us the opportunity to address your concerns.  We will work to update our FAQ with a clearer answer that summarizes what I am going to write here.


I accept that the XRF was used by a skilled technician.  However, it’s the wrong tool for the job at hand.  The job here is to determine the food safety of earthen vessels used to heat food.


Lead and cadmium are naturally occurring elements in the earth.  As crocks are earthenware vessels, trace amounts of lead and cadmium may be naturally present in them.  Our crocks are glazed to create a barrier between food and earthenware.  Thus, the issue is how to evaluate the effectiveness of the barrier that separates lead and cadmium in earthenware vessels from the food on the right side of the barrier coating.


The XRF is the wrong tool for measurement.  The XRF bombards the earthenware vessel with X-rays that penetrate the glazed coating:  the XRF provides a look “behind” the coating at the elemental content of the earthenware vessel.  Thus, the XRF tells us that the earthenware vessel – behind the barrier – has 23 ppm of lead. We already know lead is a naturally occurring element in the earth, so we’re not surprised the XRF reveals its presence behind the barrier.


To answer the question, “Does the barrier effectively prevent any of the naturally occurring lead from contacting food?” the correct tool is ASTM C378 extraction test procedures as measured by flame atomic absorption spectroscopy.  (ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a global standards-setting body.)  This test measures how much, if any, lead can penetrate the barrier and actually reach the food inside the vessel.  This test measures what happens on the “right side” of the barrier. This test method has detection limits of 0.1μg/ml for lead and 0.01μg/ml for cadmium.


All of our crocks are evaluated using ASTM C378 extraction test procedures as measured by flame atomic absorption spectroscopy.  In our crocks, the amount of lead or cadmium present in the extractant is below the test’s limits of detection.


Additionally, the factories that manufacture our crocks are certified ceramic production facilities whose ceramic ware is deemed to satisfy FDA heavy metal requirement. For more information on these requirements, please see http://www.fda.gov/InternationalPrograms/Agreements/MemorandaofUnderstanding/ucm107558.htm.


I hope this addresses your concerns.”

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. goodfamiliesdo
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 21:24:31

    Interesting. I had a general idea how to swab tests worked but wasn’t aware of how the XRF works.



  2. hartmanhollow
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 11:40:58

    Are these for older crocks or newer as well?



  3. Orlando
    Apr 22, 2022 @ 20:05:49

    Trying to find a crockpot cover



  4. Cracked Pot
    Apr 24, 2023 @ 17:14:31

    Hamilton gave a very evasive reply, “Additionally, the factories that manufacture our crocks are certified ceramic production facilities whose ceramic ware is deemed to satisfy FDA heavy metal requirement. ”

    Firstly, the FDA is no longer trustworthy in this day and age. They’ve approved many drugs that have been recalled or are facing lawsuits for damages.

    Secondly, the “heavy metal requirement” does not equate to using a lead leaching container that’s used to cook for up to 8 hours with or without food that causes the leaching to accelerate like chicken parmesan or chili, making the lead potential much higher. This is because acrid and tart foods create an environment prone to releasing lead from the glaze, right into the meal.

    Thirdly, ceramic glazes can release up to 100 times the lead in a reduced heat setting than they do in a non-heated setting. Slow cookers are quite prone to lead-leaching, because not only can lead escape in heated pots, but the extended length of cooking encourages more to come out.

    Lastly, the health concern is that lead builds up in your system gradually, so even a small amount can cause serious harm over time. This means that even if the crock pot you have in your kitchen leaks a tiny amount of lead each time it’s used, the heavy metal builds up in your body, which can cause long-term serious health issues. We also need to consider other possible lead exposure that could add to the amount we end up storing in our systems.



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