By STEVE LAWRENCE
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State officials and a Los Angeles
company were alerted last year that lunch boxes the firm imported
from China contained high amounts of lead, an environmental group
The state Department of Public Health warned consumers on
Thursday not to use about 56,000 lunch boxes that were imported by
T-A Creations and distributed through a state program to encourage
healthy eating and exercise.
The Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health said it found
high amounts of lead in a lunch box from T-A Creations that was
given out at a summer camp sponsored by a Hillsborough school.
The center said it notified T-A Creations in April 2006 and
filed a lawsuit that August that sought to force the company to
stop importing lead-tainted products. The lawsuit is still pending,
and T-A Creations has refused to discuss a settlement, center
"It is outrageous for a company that has long known about this
problem to be so cavalier about exposing children to lead," said
Michael Green, the center's executive director, in a statement.
"We hope that the state will take swift action."
An employee at T-A Creations, Stan Cipriano, said all
information about the lawsuit had been forwarded to the company's
attorney, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment
from The Associated Press.
Lead can cause brain damage when ingested by young children.
Horton urged parents whose children may have used the boxes to
consult with a physician to see whether they should be tested.
The state's public health department got its first indication in
July that the lunch boxes contained lead, said Mark Horton, its
That came from a test conducted by the Sacramento County Public
Health Department that found lead in one of the boxes that the
state was distributing through community organizations. A logo on
the boxes says: "eat fruits and vegetables and be active."
Additional testing by the state revealed high amounts of lead in
three of the green boxes, and the department issued its warning on
Thursday, urging parents to return the boxes to the places where
they got them or to a disposal site for toxic waste.
A spokeswoman for the department, Suanne Buggy, said she would
check to see if the lunch box tested by the Center for
Environmental Health was distributed through a state program and if
the department was aware last year of the center's lawsuit.
In Massachusetts on Friday, a cancer charity called The Friends
of Mel Foundation is recalling about 200,000 bracelets it has sold
as a fundraiser because they contain high levels of lead.
The foundation tested the bead-and-metal bracelets after getting
an e-mail that a nine-month-old boy apparently ingested lead from a
Nancy Sterling, a spokeswoman for the foundation, told The
Boston Globe the e-mail described the boy as "doing well."
Another foundation spokeswoman, Jackie Herskovitz, told the
newspaper the metal rings were from a Chinese supplier which had
assured the group they did not contain lead.
But independent lab tests showed the rings, but not the bead, do
contain high levels of lead. The foundation says it has notified
federal and state officials and will replace the jewelry.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)