After an investigation conducted by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the wholesaler, Fast Forward, LLC, has agreed to institute a recall of thousands of children’s lunch boxes because they contain dangerous levels of lead.
These soft plastic and mesh containers were sold by retails throughout New York State from March through September 2005.
Spitzer’s investigation into the vinyl lunch boxes proved that the amount of lead in Fast Forward products exceeds permissible levels as set by environmental protection laws. Laboratory tests showed that several lunch boxes, in particular the ones with Spiderman and Superman, had lead levels that violated New York state laws.
The lead was used in the lunch boxes to help keep the vinyl stable. It is a toxic substance, however, that in elevated levels can lead to both neurological and developmental problems in children.
As a result of the investigation, Wal-Mart and Target promptly removed the product from their shelves. Fast Forward has also consented to recall vinyl lunch boxes featuring Spiderman, Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, Precious Moments, and Rocawear products from stores.
Spitzer praised the actions of these retailers. "The recall of these children’s products will protect children and our environment from the damaging effects of lead. I commend the distributor and Wal-Mart and Target for acting promptly to address this important matter."
Despite this major recall the products are still available in some smaller locations and online through eBay.
In addition to the recall Fast Forward will pay $7,000 in civil penalties and costs. The company also promises to ensure that its products comply with hazardous materials laws and to see that the disposal the toxic lunch boxes conforms with New York’s environmental rules.
Consumers who purchased the lunch boxes should return them to the retailer where they were bought by February 28, 2006 for a cash refund with a receipt, or a store credit without a receipt.
Consumers may also obtain a full refund by returning lunch boxes directly to Fast Forward by February 28, 2006 with a Refund Request Form available from the New York Attorney General’s Office.