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Lunch Boxes May Contain Lead FDA Says No Danger Yet but Asks Soft Sided Vinyl Lunch Pail Manufactures to Change

July 22nd 2006

Lunch Boxes May Contain Lead  FDA Says No Danger Yet but Asks Soft Sided Vinyl Lunch Pail Manufactures to Change

Soft Pail

Government officials say that soft lunch boxes lined with Vinyl contain lead, however do not pose an immediate danger.  This has prompted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ask companies to look for a manufacturing technique that does not use lead.  Research has been shown that lead can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems. 

So far there is no evidence that shows that lead from the lunch box can migrate to the food.  Since food is usually stored inside bags, potential for contamination is minimized. Mitchell Cheeseman said that if officials were able to prove that lead is contaminating the food they would step in.  Cheeseman is associate director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety.


The FDA sent a letter to lunch box manufacturers and suppliers on Thursday; they said tests by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) drew its attention to the lead content of some lunch box linings.  This was reported by

At the time of manufacture, various compounds are added to give different properties to the lunch box, including color and softness. CPSC spokeswoman Patty Davis said Friday her organization's tests showed the lunch boxes were safe for children to handle. She said that children would have to rub their hands on the lunch box and then lick their hands more than 600 times a day for 15 to 30 days in order to be exposed to a dangerous amount of lead.


Tim Burns, president of industry trade association the Vinyl Institute, says the lead-containing compounds are not necessary for producing vinyl.  He speculates that the vinyl created with these compounds is made outside of the United States.

Davis said the CPSC has not determined whether the lead was traveling from the lunch box to the food because it was not their jurisdiction.  This is the FDAs jurisdiction, according to Davis. 

The FDA says that the industry has reacted appropriately when discussing the issue with their representatives.

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