UPDATE NOVEMBER 6, 2013: VPR clarifies that it is unable to test mugs from 2002 and older, and that is why it recommends owners of those mugs discontinue use.
Also, the issue with the 2005 mug is, in fact, lead detected in the ceramic, not in the design printed on it. It was the only mug out of 34 tested that did not meet FDA requirements.
News that has the word "lead" in it is usually bad news. But Vermont Public Radio's announcement today about "Mug-gate" was mostly good. Of all the artist-designed mugs VPR recently has had tested for the presence of the heavy metal, all but one passed with flying colors, i.e., met FDA regulations.
However, if you're a donor who's been drinking your coffee from the 2005 artist mug pictured here, well, you are advised to stop. Especially if you're a young child or pregnant woman. Better to turn that mug into a planter or pen holder.
In fact, VPR suggests donors not drink from any cup made in 2002 or earlier, just to be on the safe side.
The 2005 mug's artwork by Chris Varricchione is not to blame; neither is the Chinese manufacturer of the white ceramic cup. Rather, it's the Pennsylvania vendor that imprinted the art on the glazed mug.
To its credit, VPR has stayed in front of this story since another mug was in question in late September (see our previous post about the lead discovery here). Today's press announcement noted that VPR has purchased the mugs from China but used various American vendors to ink the designs.
The station is now reconsidering its tradition of gifting artist mugs to donors in fundraising campaigns. Says today's announcement: ..."members of the VPR staff have started to examine a future reboot of the program, including domestic sourcing of mugs and the continued use of organic-based inks."
Added Brendan Kinney, vice president of development and marketing, “We have learned much over the last month as we navigated this complicated issue. We appreciate the feedback that we’ve received from our listeners and are working diligently to maintain their trust and loyalty.”
Image of mug courtesy of VPR.