Producer of Give-Away Lunchboxes Ordered to Pay $10 Million
Oakland, CA -In San Francisco Superior Court yesterday, Judge Richard
A. Kramer ordered L.A.-based T.A. Creations to pay $10,071,500 for the
company’s violation of California law when it sold lead-tainted
lunchboxes to the state for a Health Department give-away promotion.
The judgment resulted from litigation initiated by the Center for
Environmental Health (CEH), a nonprofit that warned TA Creations about
high levels of lead in its lunchboxes months before the company sold
the tainted products to the state.
“We are shocked that a company would knowingly sell lead-tainted
lunchboxes intended for California’s children,” said Michael Green,
Executive Director of CEH. “The judgment sends a strong signal that
companies who put our children’s health at risk will pay the price.”
According to California state purchasing records, TA Creations sold
100,000 lunchboxes for a state lunch box give-away program after CEH
notified and sued the company in 2006, due to high lead levels the
nonprofit found in the company’s products. In July 2007, testing by the
Sacramento County Health Department found high lead levels in the TA
Creations lunchboxes sold to the state, and last September the state
announced a recall of 56,000 of the TA Creations give-away lunchboxes,
and also warned parents not to use any of the approximately 300,000
other lunchboxes that were distributed by the state in the past several
CEH began investigating lead in children’s vinyl lunchboxes in 2005,
and at that time initiated legal action against several producers of
vinyl lunchboxes that contained high lead levels. In the months
following the CEH legal action, dozens of news reports by California
and national media highlighted the problem of lead in lunchboxes.
In the spring of 2006, CEH identified TA Creations as a producer of
lead tainted vinyl lunchboxes when a student at a Bay Area school
brought the company’s lunchboxes to a lead-testing day organized by the
non-profit. The lunchboxes were from a summer camp that had purchased
them from T.A. Creations. In April 2006, CEH notified TA Creations of
its lead lunch box problem and filed legal notice against the company
under California’s Proposition 65 law.
But while every other lunch box company agreed to meet with CEH to
address the lead lunch box problem, TA Creations never responded to the
CEH legal challenge and refused to negotiate an agreement to make the
product safer. To date, more than twenty other lunch box companies have
reached agreements with CEH to eliminate this lead threat to children.
For more information, please visit the lead in lunchboxes section of our website.
For photos of the state give-away lunchboxes and more information from CDPH, see http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/news/Pages/PH07-39.aspx