The Minnesota Departments of Health (MDH) and Agriculture (MDA) are alerting consumers to avoid ingesting products containing bentonite clay due to the possibility that the products may contain high levels of heavy metals, including lead. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued consumer warnings for two separate bentonite clay products after laboratory analysis of the products found elevated lead levels. Although bentonite clay products containing lead have been found in several Minnesota stores, there have been no confirmed reports of illness or injury associated with bentonite clay products in Minnesota.
The two brands for which the FDA issued alerts were Bentonite Me Baby and Best Bentonite, however, health and agriculture officials say it is likely there are other similar bentonite clay products on the market that contain lead that have not been identified by FDA.
Bentonite clay is commonly marketed as a cosmetic product used externally. However, some bentonite clay products also include instructions for ingestion as a kind of holistic medicinal treatment. Pure bentonite clay is usually sold as a fine powder, varying in color from off-white to green-gray or gray-brown. Blended or multi-ingredient products may list either bentonite clay, sodium bentonite, or calcium bentonite on the ingredient label. Products containing bentonite clay may be sold at retail beauty supply outlets and cosmetic counters. Pure bentonite clay is also sold in bulk form.
Exposure to lead can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and immune system. In children, exposure to lead, even at low levels, is associated with cognitive impairment, reduced IQ, behavioral difficulties, and other problems.
Consumers with health concerns following the use or ingestion of bentonite clay should contact a doctor, other health care provider, or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).