Every year millions of tourists go to Mexico and bring a lot of Mexican decorative souvenirs for their friends and for themselves as well. Very often the Mexican decorative souvenirs do not meet the standards of the USA. Specialists point out that most of the Mexican ceramic souvenirs are colorful, so they may not satisfy the US safety standards.
A lot of collaborative work has been done by the Mexican government and the United States. Nevertheless they did not manage to find a plan for effective monitoring of every person who sells the souvenirs in the street. But it is necessary to mention the fact that not only Mexican decorative souvenirs make the US government worry. For example, Spanish lead-glazed souvenirs do not meet the US standards either.
The problem is that when tourists buy Mexican decorative souvenirs, they cannot define whether this or that piece of ceramics contains the dangerous amount of lead. Specialists are more aware of such problems. For example, specialists say that most ceramic products that are sold in local shops and roadside stands can dangerously violate the US standards.
For example, one of the specialists in the sphere was in Mexico and asked a saleswoman in a little shop which was situated near his hotel whether the Mexican decorative jars she was selling could contain some dangerous amount of lead. She was proud to tell that the owner of the shop reassured her that all the products were safe. But when the specialist tested one of the items he bought in the shop the level of the lead leach exceeded the norm established in the USA.
A lot of citizens of the United States are in danger of lead poisoning because they can stay abroad for rather a long time. For example, it once happened to two men who stayed in Italy. They bought some household items including a pair of coffee mugs. Each of them drank about 10 cups of coffee from the mugs every day. It killed them three years later.
It is necessary to mention the fact that lead poisoning symptoms are rather insidious and are difficult to diagnose. The two people had different symptoms which weakened them.
Now the FDA has worked out special color tests which can define rather quickly whether the ceramic product leaches excessive amount of lead. This test is going to be used during the inspection of the importing products. This test will be used by import inspectors at the ports of entry. They will send all the suspect pottery for the laboratory analysis. Soon the test will be available to general public as well.
But specialists say that it is impossible to check everything.
One common mistake is that often the FDA inspectors test Mexican decorative souvenirs and ceramic souvenirs from other countries which come in large quantities but not in small batches.
Every country has different situation. Traditionally the FDA focuses its testing on the products coming from those countries which have violation history. Fortunately there are countries where the control procedures are of quality and similar to those in the United States.