Reusable bags from Lufkin grocer could contain dangerous levels of lead

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Some East Texas grocery shoppers try to save the environment by using reusable bags, but new research claims the sacks have dangerous amounts of lead in them.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit group supported by businesses and consumers, got Frontier Global Sciences to test green bags across the nation from several retailers, including Brookshire Brothers.

Earth Savvy Products, LLC based out of Pennsylvania makes the bags and says they're safe.

The Center for Consumer Freedom says they aren't afraid to take on groups that have built good images and claim to be responsible. Most recently, they've taken on Earth Savvy and their environmentally friendly bags sold around the globe.

"From what I've read, the lead in the bags is not something that's harmful and so I'll continue to use them," said Brookshire Brothers customer Jane Ainsworth.

"It's [lead] been proven to give kids learning problems, ADHD and other problems," said David Russell, a shopper at Brookshire Brothers.

"I definitely care about people's safety, but I don't know that there's enough lead in there to make a difference," said shopper Jessica Pullin.

The consumer group's results show the plastic inserts used to stabilize the bags contain 239 parts per million of lead in them and the bag itself has less than one part per million.

The President of Earth Savvy Products, Joe Ballantyne, said the Brookshire Brothers bags are being tested now, but their commissary bags they sell to a government agency have also come under fire. He said three different labs have tested the commissary bags and there's only a fraction of the amount of lead in them the consumer group is claiming.

Earth Savvy Products said they use a testing protocol adopted by 19 states and their bags have about a fourth of the amount their testing process allows, which is 100 parts per million for lead and three other metals.

"Even the tests that show these high levels, which again we question that they show these high levels, there's so much variance between the levels, there's no consistency at all," said Ballantyne.

Still, customers are concerned.

"Oh yeah, because I'm from the age-group, growing up you know when I was younger, they outlawed lead in paints and water fountains and stuff that had lead in them," said Russell.

"It doesn't dissolve, so it would be virtually impossible for it to even get in contact with the food," Ballantyne said.

While Brookshire Brothers referred KTRE to the company that actually makes the bags for a comment, they told us they're going to do a mandatory recall of the bags in all of their stores, just to be safe.

As far as the environment is concerned, Ballantyne said it would probably take thousands of bags in a landfill before it became an issue, which is why the bags should be recycled in the first place.

Click here to see the testing protocol used by Earth Savvy, LLC.

©2011 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.