Testing Equipment for Lead

Lead contamination in maple products has largely been associated with processing equipment that contains lead. This equipment does not meet the requirements for food-grade materials. Lead can seep from soldered joints and plated coatings to contaminate sap and syrup. Tig-welded stainless steel components are the proper choices.  Lead sources can be found on all types of equipment used in the production system, including equipment or materials with lead soldering. If you are unsure if your equipment contains lead, purchase a test kit from equipment dealers.

Lead test kits are available to help maple producers determine if their equipment is a potential source of lead contamination.  Lead test kits contain a chemical that changes colour when it contacts lead.  These kits can be used quickly and easily to test equipment and other surfaces for lead.  Lead test kits can be purchased at maple equipment dealers.

To check equipment for lead, follow these steps:

1. Choose a surface to test, such as a soldered seam, that has direct food contact.

2. Prepare the surface by following the procedures included in the test kit.

Typically, the test surface is prepared by removing any dirt, residual sap or syrup, rust, or other surface coating by wiping the surface using water and paper towel or cloth.

The surface should then be “roughed” with sandpaper, a knife, or emery board. Roughing exposes lead particles (if they exist) so that they can contact the testing reagent.

3. Activate the lead testing swab or wipe by following the instructions in the test kit package.

4. Apply the reagent to the prepared test surface. If the solution changes colour, as outlined in the test kit, then there is lead present in that equipment.

All lead bearing equipment must immediately be removed from the maple production system.

4 lead-test kits: chalk-length white tubes and two instructional pamphlets.

A lead-test kit.

Red means lead. A pink or red result following a swab test means lead is present and the equipment should be replaced.