Wegmans has stopped selling its reusable shopping bags with the green pea and 2009 holiday designs because preliminary testing indicates elevated levels of lead in the bags. The supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland says it is not a food safety or children’s health concern; only a disposal issue.
As an example, New York’s packaging law doesn’t raise any health concerns about using or touching packaging that’s high in heavy metals but rather in the disposal of the packaging with heavy metals which can get into the air or water supply by leaching out from landfills or getting into emissions or ash when packaging is incinerated, reports ROCnow.com.
New York’s rules on the use of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium in packaging — including , crates, trays, wrappers, bags, and tubs — sold in the state took effect in 1992, according to the article.
Bloomberg reports that Wegmans decided to replace the reusable shopping bags after a consumer group found high levels of lead in the bags.
Wegmans spokesperson told Bloomberg it will post notices in its 76 stores and on a Website offering consumers a replacement. More than 725,000 bags were sold at stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.
Judy Braiman, president of the Empire State Consumer Project in Rochester told the newspaper this should tell companies that lead could be in their products and they should do their own testing now.
Braiman’s group buys products in stores to test for toxic metals such as lead and cadmium and found that the Chinese-made green Wegmans bag with a pea design showed lead at levels eight times higher than permitted by New York law, which limits lead to as high as 100 parts per million, according to Bloomberg.
The green Wegmans totes being replaced contain lead at 799 parts per million, while the red and purple bags showed less than 2 parts per million and a black Wegmans tote had 59 parts per million, Braiman said in the article.
New York is one of 19 states with a law to limit the amount of toxic metals in packaging, according to the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse in Brattleboro, Vermont, reports Bloomberg.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission permits lead in children’s products as high as 300 parts per million but will drop to 100 parts per million next year, reports the newspaper. The CPSC is considering new limits on cadmium after recalls of children’s jewelry and drinking glasses sold by McDonald’s Corp.