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Espresso Machines Leaching Lead After Cleaning, German Group Says

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Espresso machines may be leaching unsafe amounts of lead into customers’ drinks after heavy cleaning, according to a report from the German news group Spiegel.

Spiegel says it has obtained an unreleased study from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin, a leading European food safety and consumer protection agency, showing that drinks from some espresso machines produced 100 times the EU standard for safe levels of lead. The leaching was coming from the use of descaling agents, Spiegel reported.

BfR has not released the study, nor has it identified any individual brands that may be susceptible to lead leaching, but Spiegel identified the highest incidence among what it described as “expensive” espresso machines, as compared to pod or capsule machines, which showed significantly less leaching after cleaning.

Two thirds of machines tested exceeded the EU lead standard, and some machines were found to produce unsafe levels after five days of use following descaling.

The BfR has not yet responded to contact requests, but we’ll bring you more information as this story develops.

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