07/22/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2013

Some Mexican Hot Sauces Contain Lead, Study Says


That bottle of hot sauce may be doing more than setting your tongue ablaze.

Four out of 25 bottles of hot sauce from Mexico and South America, or 16 percent, tested by researchers at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas contained high levels of lead.

The research team published the study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health earlier this year, but the university didn’t publicize results until last week, according to the Associated Press. The news also hit Mexico, with several publications covering the story.

Lead poisoning can cause neurological problems, especially in young people.

“In children, it really affects the developing nervous system,” researcher Shawn Gerstenberger told 8 News Now. “The biggest problem everybody worries about is the permanent reduction in IQ scores that are irreversible.”

The brands that surpassed FDA-established safe standards for lead were Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero, El Pato Salsa Picante, Salsa Habanera and Búfalo Salsa Clásica. The study did not include U.S. hot sauce brands, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.