Consumer Reports warns against Lunchables due to high sodium, lead, cadmium, and toxins

Consumer Reports says Lunchables lunch kits contain dangerous levels of sodium, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors. It has asked the federal government to remove the product from its free and reduced-cost school lunch programs.

"The Lunchables and similar lunch kits we tested contain concerning levels of sodium and harmful chemicals that can lead to serious health problems over time," said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. "The USDA should remove Lunchables from the National School Lunch Program and ensure that kids in schools have healthier options."

From Consumer Reports release:

CR tested store-bought Lunchables and similar kits from Armour LunchMakers, Good & Gather, Greenfield Natural Meat Co., and Oscar Mayer and found lead, cadmium, or both in all. Lead and cadmium can cause developmental problems in children over time, even in small amounts. While none of the kits exceeded any federal limit, five of the 12 tested products would expose someone to 50 percent or more of California's maximum allowable level for lead or cadmium – currently the most protective standard.

CR also detected at least one type of phthalate in every kit it tested, except for Lunchables Extra Cheesy Pizza. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, compounds that may mimic or interfere with hormones in the body, which can contribute to an increased risk of reproductive problems, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. As with heavy metals, the goal should be to keep exposure as low as possible.

NPR reports that Kraft, makers of Lunchables, stands behind its product:

In a statement, a spokesperson for Kraft Heinz, which makes Lunchables, said all of its products meet strict safety standards and that lead and cadmium occur naturally in the environment and may show up in food at low levels.

"We are proud of Lunchables and stand by the quality and integrity that goes into making them," they said.

Previously: Use a Bento Box to make healthy DIY Lunchables