Press Releases

Disney Reusable Bags from Safeway Found With High Lead Levels


Oakland, CA-Independent testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has found high levels of lead, in violation of California law, in Disney “Toy Story” and “Cars” reusable plastic shopping bags purchased from Safeway. Testing of the bags found more than 15 times the federal limit for lead in children’s products.

Yesterday CEH sent legal notices to Disney, Safeway, and Advanced Publisher, the maker of the bags, informing them that the products violate California consumer protection law. The nonprofit is demanding that the companies remove the bags from sale immediately and agree to reformulate their bags to eliminate lead threats to children and families. CEH has also asked the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the bags, which contain lead levels that far exceed the federal standard for children’s products.

“These hazardous lead levels in Disney-themed products from a major retailer like Safeway are especially disappointing now that it has been almost three years since federal legislation banned lead in children’s products,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Parents should know that the Disney brand does not imply a higher standard of safety for children’s products.” Previously CEH has found high lead levels in numerous Disney-branded products, including baby bibs, diaper bags, children’s jewelry, lunchboxes, Hannah Montana products, and other items.

A front-group for the plastic bag industry calling itself the “Center for Consumer Freedom” claims in a nationwide ad campaign that high lead levels and bacteria in reusable bags suggest that proposals to ban disposable plastic bags are misguided and driven by “junk science.” In fact, CEH’s testing confirms that the vast majority of reusable bags do not pose lead hazards, but those few that do are made of plastic.

“The plastics industry says we should avoid their unhealthy reusable bags and stick to their environmentally damaging plastic disposables,” said CEH Research Director Caroline Cox. “We recommend cloth reusable bags because some plastic reusable bags may have lead problems and cloth bags are longer-lasting and easy to wash.” CEH offers free lead screening of plastic reusable bags for consumers who wish to bring or mail them to the nonprofit.

According to Consumer Reports, the CCF’s claims regarding the threat from bacteria in reusable bags are also overblown. The consumer watchdog traced the claims about bacteria in reusable bags to a single study paid for by the plastics industry. Contrary to the CCF’s ads, even this plastics industry study found no bacteria that normally cause disease in the reusable bags tested.

CEH has a fifteen-year track record of protecting communities from the health impacts of toxic pollution and has previously uncovered lead and other toxic health threats to children and families from wood playground structures, toys, vinyl baby bibs and lunchboxes, imported candies, children’s jewelry, children’s medicines, and many other products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. Last year, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual “Green Champion” award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond.