Some of my readers might be worried after hearing about a safety alert from the FDA regarding prunes and dried plums contaminated with lead. I want to reassure you that this warning does not concern the prunes from California found in most US supermarkets that we recommend for bone health; instead, it refers to candied, salted, or pickled prunes imported from Asia, products that are generally found in Asian and Hispanic specialty markets. The Texas Department of State Health Services has a list of affected plum products. If you have any of the brands listed on this warning in your pantry and you haven’t yet used them, discard them immediately; if you’ve already eaten prunes from the listed products, contact your healthcare provider about getting your blood lead levels tested. If you are a regular consumer of imported plum or prune products, be sure to check the above-linked website to ensure your favorite brands are not on the list. You may also want to wait to consume this type of product until the source of the lead contamination has been identified and the matter resolved.
Thankfully, the FDA has emphasized that domestic plums and prunes are not included in this warning, so you can continue to enjoy the bone-building power of domestic prunes in safety. But I’d also like to stress that the imported prune products are a different prune species than the prunes used in the clinical studies, and they may not have exactly the same bone health benefits as the California prunes used in the studies I’ve discussed in earlier blogs on prunes and bone health. So if you’re eating prunes for bone health, our recommendation at the Center for Better Bones is to stick with domestic California dried plums (prunes). (PS an excellent source of organic California prunes can be found at www.OrganicPrunes.com)