Prevent Lead Contamination in Apple Cider

Exposure to lead is known to have adverse effects on human health, especially on the nervous system. Children are particularly vulnerable.

The primary source of lead contamination in apple cider is lead-bearing equipment. Cider can react with lead-containing surfaces, allowing lead to leach into the cider. Lead-bearing equipment includes, but is not restricted to:

  • galvanized equipment manufactured before 1994;
  • most bronze and brass fittings;
  • soldered equipment manufactured before 1995;
  • "terneplate" (a tin/lead alloy used in older equipment).

What You Can Do to Avoid Lead Contamination

Check and Update Your Equipment

Use food grade materials such as stainless steel or food grade plastic, for food contact surfaces. Cider storage tanks must be constructed of stainless steel or food grade plastic or be fibreglass-lined. Repairs must use only food-grade materials.

Check your cider-making equipment for lead. Lead test kits or lead check swabs can be purchased from most maple syrup equipment suppliers and from some hardware stores.

Never use maple syrup equipment to heat treat or pasteurize apple cider unless that equipment has been verified as lead free.

Additional information on the effects of lead on human health can be found on Health Canada's website.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 19 December 2006
Last Reviewed: 19 February 2014