Giant, Safeway say reuseable bags are safe after testing for lead

By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 8:10 AM

The Washington region's two largest supermarket chains said they have tested their reusable grocery bags for lead and found them safe, even as reports of excessive amounts of the toxic chemical in some reusable bags have other retailers considering pulling them from the market.

Giant Food said the company's quality assurance group examined the bags about two months ago and found the lead content to be within acceptable limits. At Safeway, tests by the company's vendor of reusable bags last year showed no traceable lead in the fabric or the paint on the bags, said spokesman Greg Ten Eyck. Additional tests are planned this year, he said.

Winn-Dixie, a large grocery chain in southern states, announced Monday it was voluntarily recalling its private-label brand of reusable bags. The move comes after an investigation by the Tampa Tribune found that bags from Winn-Dixie and other chains tested higher than the federal limit for lead in children's toys, which is 300 parts per million.

Several supermarket chains have recently stopped selling some reusable bags - which are often seen as more environmentally friendly than paper or plastic bags - after determining they could contain high levels of lead. In September, Wegmans also stopped selling two styles of reusable bags because of lead concerns.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Monday called for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the issue.

"When our families go to the grocery store looking for safe and healthy foods to feed their kids, the last thing they should have to worry about are toxic bags," he said.

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