Healthy Living Foundation

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Reese World Finer Foods Lead Contamination Problem Spreads

We wonder how recent hire William Flynn, Chief Financial Officer for World Finer Foods (WFF), and company President and CEO Susan Guerin, are going to deal with brand losses in its Reese shellfish sales as retailers and consumers discover it is selling toxic products with so much lead that they have been issued multiple notices of violation in California.

Consider this little report the first of the drip of toxic news headlines for World Finer Foods and Reese as just compensation for the company's own long delay in warning consumers they are purchasing some of the most polluted clams and oysters being sold in the US. Of special concern are pregnant women and persons of childbearing age; HLF experts believe that just one serving could be immediately toxic to the developing fetus. It isn't really very smart business to feed customers undisclosed heavy metal neurotoxins found at some of the highest levels of lead the Chemical Toxin Working Group has ever measured.

And it isn’t as if the World Finer Food executive team wouldn’t know about this problem—that is unless they don't receive legal updates of any kind whatsoever. 

The Chemical Toxin Working Group first filed a notice of violation February 20, 2013 against Reese Medium Smoked Oysters for lead. When WFF didn’t respond to this initial filing, CTWG filed a second NOV on March 5, 2013 and notified the company that their products Reese Colossal Smoked Oysters and Reese Petite Smoked Oysters vastly exceed state of California safety standards for lead contamination and that the law required clear and reasonable warnings that the amount of lead in their products could poison the developing fetus.


Lead poisoning in the fetus can occur within different periods of development. Each little particle of lead in these products transferred to fetal brain tissues is like sand in a fine Swiss watch; how many grains of sand before the finely meshed watch gears stop working? How many grains of lead before a baby loses a few points in IQ? The levels in these products are so high that they exceed safety standards by 30-50x. An inquiry into the amount of lead in products with these concentrations indicates that they could raise the blood lead levels in the fetus by as much as 1%. A blood lead level increase of 1% is enough to caus immediate harm to the brain. Because of this concern, the state attorney general in California requested that the CTWG forward its information to the state Department of Health Services. 

Even having given them this information, CTWG was forced to file a third NOV on September 15, 2015 and named Reese Petite Smoked Oysters (Fancy Cherry Wood in Cottonseed Oil); Reese Medium Smoked Oysters (Fancy Cherry Wood in Cottonseed Oil); Reese Colossal Smoked Oysters (Fancy Cherry Wood in Cottonseed Oil) and Reesed Smoked Baby Clams (Fancy Cherry Wood in Cottonseed Oil). They still refused to warn consumers.

These companies buy their oysters from waters in China that are polluted by millions of automobiles that pass over them on a large transportation bridge. The levels of lead in these products exceed what is typically found in a glass of Flint, Michigan drinking water—yet the company refused to notify shoppers.

In contrast, responsible companies such as Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea International and Roland International have taken precautions to responsibly inform shoppers of the hazards of their products at least in the state of California.

CTWG has promised to litigate the company it doesn't start acting responsibily soon.