FoodReference.com Logo

FoodReference.com   (Since 1999)
 

Food Articles, News & Features Section

Home       Food Articles       Food Trivia       Today in Food History       Recipes       Cooking Tips       Videos       Food Quotes       Who's Who       Food Trivia Quizzes       Crosswords       Food Poems       Cookbooks       Food Posters       Recipe Contests       Culinary Schools       Gourmet Tours       Food Festivals & Shows

  You are here > 

HomeFood ArticlesSmart Shopping Tips >  Lead In Reusable Grocery Bags

 

CULINARY SCHOOLS &
COOKING CLASSES

From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training
Over 1,000 schools & classes listed for U.S., Online & Worldwide

Culinary Posters and Food Art

LEAD IN REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS

 

EarthTalk
(June 12, 2011)

Dear EarthTalk: I heard that some reusable bags contain lead. Is this a major health concern? Can’t these bags be made to avoid such contamination?
-- Donald Young, Cincinnati, OH

It’s true that some reusable shopping bags for sale in U.S. stores have been shown to contain lead, a neurotoxin linked to developmental, brain and kidney problems. The non-profit Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found that about 10 percent of the reusable bags it tested last year contained at least minute levels of lead, with Disney’s “Toy Story” and “Cars” plastic reusable shopping bags topping the charts with excessive levels to the tune of 15 times the federal limit for lead in children’s products.

Tests by other groups confirm CEH’s findings. A November 2010 report by the Tampa Tribune newspaper found elevated levels of lead in reusable bags purchased at Winn-Dixie, Publix, Walmart and Target stores—and prompted an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) into whether or not reusable shopping bags could be leaching lead into food items that people later eat. And earlier this year, the Center for Consumer Freedom, a trade group that opposes bans on plastic bags, reported that some 21 different polypropylene reusable bags sold at Safeway, Walgreen’s, Bloom and other stores had lead content above 100 parts per million—the highest level that many states allow in consumer packaging.

Eco Groceery Bags
Plastic reusable shopping bags are petroleum-derived and may contain other contaminants, including lead, especially if they feature ornate designs or patterns. The safe bet is to use cloth bags, like the one pictured here from Eco Bags, because they are free of lead, they last for years, and they are easy to wash.
Photo: Eco Bags

While the stores in question have pulled any such questionable bags from their shelves and in some cases stopped patronizing offending suppliers, consumers should take matters into their own hands with regard to selecting safer reusable shopping bags. While plastic reusable shopping bags are a step in the right direction compared to disposable plastic or paper bags, they are still derived from petroleum, even if partly recycled, and may contain other contaminants, especially if they feature ornate designs or patterns. The safest bet, according to CEH, would be cloth bags: Not only are they usually free of lead or any other potentially hazardous substances, but they also last for years and are easy to wash. One quality, reliable source for cloth bags is the Ossining, New York-based Eco Bags, from which you can order conveniently online and pay no shipping costs on any order of $100 or more.

Regarding washing to reduce or eliminate contaminants, public health experts worry that reusable shopping bags could become a breeding ground for impurities that lead to food poisoning, and recommend washing them every few uses at least to ward off contamination. A 2008 Environmental and Plastics Industry Council of Canada study found mold and bacterial levels in reusable bags 300 percent greater than Canadian health standards allow. And a 2010 joint University of Arizona and Limo Loma University study found that 97 percent of users did not wash their reusable shopping bags—which can harbor bacteria from repeated exposure to meats and vegetables. Half of the 84 bags studied contained coliform, a bacterium found in fecal matter, while 12 percent tested positive for E. coli.

The moral of the story is to make sure your reusable shopping bags can go through the clothes washer—and then wash them a few times a month. This way you will steer clear of contaminating the food you and your family eat with trace amounts of lead, and as such you will sleep easier each and every night.


CONTACTS: CEH, www.ceh.org; Eco Bags, www.ecobags.com

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com   Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial

 

TOP 

   Home       About Us & Contact Us       Food Articles       Magazines       Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of FoodReference.com from your website.

For permission to use any of this content please E-mail: james@foodreference.com

All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2014 James T. Ehler and www.FoodReference.com unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved.

You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.

Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.

Please take the time to request permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

POPULAR PAGES

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals