Lead Content In Plant-Based Products and Proposition 65

Posted by No Cow on


At No Cow, we are committed to sourcing quality ingredients for our products, and we take it seriously. Our Founder started the brand to meet a personal need to find a better alternative to whey protein, and we'll never lose sight of that mission. That said, we always side with taking the "No Bull" approach, and we think it's important to be transparent when it comes to the natural presence of certain elements in some of our ingredients. More importantly, we want to educate our fans on how to understand it.


Metals such as lead and arsenic are natural components of the Earth's crust, air, and water. This means they are also found in many plants and whole, organic fruits and vegetables. While that may sound concerning, it’s actually pretty common for lead to occur in trace amounts of these foods.

According to the EPA, lead can naturally occur in uncontaminated soil, ranging from 50 parts per million (ppm) to400 ppm. A 2020 study by the FDA reports that daily consumption of 12.5 micrograms of naturally occurring lead from the diet does not pose any health or safety concern.

But in California, the Proposition 65 “no significant risk level” of lead consumption is 15 micrograms(mcg)/day for carcinogenic effects, and the “maximum allowable dose level” is 0.5 micrograms/day for reproductive effects. To compare, the FDA conducted a study to determine the amount of lead in typical foods and establish safe levels. Here is what they found in typical serving sizes:

  • One cup of Brussels sprouts may contain more than 6 mcg of lead
  • One cup of sweet potatoes may contain 13 mcg of lead
  • A few cups of Spinach may contain more than 6 mcg of lead 


In 1986, California voters approved an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals, and Proposition 65 was born. Prop 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about potential exposure to chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. The Act sets strict standards regarding the risk of exposure to over 800 various chemicals and metals. Standards that, in many circumstances, are much stricter than those set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and US FDA.

With plant-based foods and ingredients, the closer to the soil and the more water-loving the plant, the more it takes in from the soil, including naturally occurring chemicals. On the other hand, animal-based ingredients, like whey protein, tend to be highly processed and stripped of many minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and certain chemicals. Thus, plant-based ingredients tend to have higher levels of naturally occurring chemicals such as lead. Fortunately, our bodies were built to digest plants and are very good at filtering and removing the bad stuff, like lead, before they have a chance to enter our systems while retaining the important plant-based nutrients. 


While we are extremely confident in the quality of the ingredients we source from our suppliers, the presence of trace elements such as lead are inevitable and unavoidable, despite the fact that all of our ingredients are non-GMO verified and in many cases, minimally processed.

Any lead in our bars is naturally occurring at trace levels that are well below the lead content mentioned above for products like spinach and sweet potatoes. The trace amounts of lead are primarily from the rice and pea proteins that we use as our primary sources of plant-based proteins. Our main supplier of plant proteins is the industry leader in quality and safety and has spent millions of dollars on R&D to continuously lower their levels of naturally occurring heavy metals. They source from areas that have fewer naturally occurring heavy metals, they employ strict manufacturing protocols and procedures to limit heavy metals at every processing step, and every batch is tested for heavy metals at a U.S. based, 3rd party ISO accredited laboratory. They have met/exceeded the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), US FDA, the EU, and Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate.

Bottom line, No Cow products are safe for you to enjoy as part of your balanced diet. You can be confident when consuming No Cow products that the amount of naturally occurring heavy metals is well below the levels deemed safe by the US FDA and other international food safety agencies..


As always, we want to be as transparent as possible so you can make a more informed decision. We test our products for quality and purity, we stand behind every product we sell, and we are constantly working to ensure that our products are made from the best ingredients available.

If you have any questions about our products, email us at info@nocow.com or give us a call at 1 (866) 696-6269.

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