From Tampa Tribune: Lead in bags, other products result of global economy:

That’s the most likely reason why recent tests commissioned by The Tampa Tribune found elevated lead levels in elaborately decorated grocery bags sold at Winn-Dixie and Publix, according to executives in the promotional merchandise manufacturing industry.

Lead shouldn’t be in paint, and there are better alternatives. But making a newly popular item like reusable bags sometimes involves a dizzying array of subcontracting and handoffs stretching around the globe. And, too often, someone, somewhere will substitute cheaper, dangerous ingredients, like lead, to support their profit margins.

The same problems cropping up with bags echo troubles with other tainted products: Cadmium in drink cups sold at McDonald’s, toxins in household drywall, lead in children’s lunchboxes. Just Friday, the Food and Drug Administration warned of lead in hand-made pottery coming from Mexico.

Toxic metals are a problem that Wayne Greenberg has been warning his industry about for years, and he’s not altogether surprised lead would show up in some reusable bags.

“The whole issue is that there’s a bunch of suppliers who just want to have the cheapest bags,” said Greenberg, former chair of the Promotional Products Association International, and owner of the promotional gear company JB of Florida in Tampa. “They may not mean to increase the lead content … but they don’t know the difference between a 99-cent bag and a $1.29 bag is whether it was tested or not.”

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