Potentially harmful lead levels found in imported ceramic cookware have prompted the Food and Drug Administration to announce a recall of the items.
The target of the action is ceramic teapots and pitchers decorated with a "Delft Blue" mill and flower pattern. The products, manufactured in the Netherlands, are distributed by Dutch American Import Co., an Irvine-based firm.
An FDA analysis found that the cookware contained "excessive levels of lead that can leach into the beverages placed" in the containers. The agency stated that "prolonged use of these products for food preparation or storage could result in irreversible damage to the central nervous systems of children."
More than 500 of the teapots and pitchers have been distributed throughout the country, primarily to novelty stores and amusement parks.
A company spokesman said the firm is cooperating fully with the recall action and doing all in its power to alert those retailers who carried the line about the lead problem. Arrangements have also been made for the return of the potentially tainted merchandise.
Made in Holland
Jacob Schep, president of Dutch American, said the ceramics were imported into this country legally and that he had no reason to believe they were defective until the FDA revealed the results of its random tests.
Those items affected by the action are manufactured by M. Dewit Keramische Industries, of Gouda, the Netherlands. The ceramics are not coded, per se, but some do carry stick-on tags at their base. The teapots, tagged, are numbered 0535511 or 0535512. The pitchers involved carry tags with the numbers 0530671 or 0530672. Another identifying mark, on some of the teapots only, is a stick-on tag that reads, "Delft Holland Hanajes Childred."
Lead, a highly toxic heavy metal, can leach into foods from ceramic containers that are improperly glazed or heated.
Consumers who suspect that they have one of the items involved in the recall should return the products to the place of purchase. Merchants are also urged to remove the suspect ceramics from store shelves.