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CPSC Recalls Lunch Bags from California Innovations

January 24, 2012 By Kyle Richardson
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California Innovations, a Toronto-based manufacturer of coolers, tote bags and drinkware, in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), has issued a voluntary recall of two of its insulated food bags. According to the CPSC, the "Cryofreeze" freezer gel packs included in the bags can leak chemicals when damaged that are potentially poisonous when ingested.

The recall affects two items produced by California Innovations: Expandable Insulated Lunch Box with Freezer Gel Pack, and the Travelin' Chef Expandable Thermal Food Carrier. The Expandable Insulated Lunch Box with Freezer Gel Pack was sold through Costco, Leon Korol and Cost U Less stores between May 2007 and September 2008, and the recall affects approximately 248,000 units. The Travelin' Chef Expandable Thermal Food Carrier was sold by Walmart between August 2008 and December 2011, and the recall affects approximately 55,000 units. Both items were manufactured in China.

According to California Innovations, the recalls affect the thermal gel packs included in the bags, because they were incorrectly labeled as non-toxic. Gel packs labeled "Not to be ingested" are not part of the recall and may be used normally. The bags themselves, as well as other included components, have also been deemed safe.

Promotional products supplier Leed's, based out of New Kensington, Pa., sells some of California Innovations' products into the industry, but told Promo Marketing that they do not carry the recalled items. In an official statement, the company said, "California Innovations is one of our brand partners. We are aware of the recall and have confirmed that no products offered by Leed's are affected."

In a conversation with Promo Marketing, Larry Whitney, manager of trade compliance for Leed's, explained further. "It looks like that particular [gel pack] design, where it's able to be heated or cooled, has some chemicals that may be a little more toxic than the normal freezer gel you would use," he said. "We don't have any products with that heat/cool feature like they do."

The gel packs in the recalled products include ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol, organic compounds commonly found in antifreeze and synthetic polymers, such as polyester and polypropylene. Although hazardous and potentially fatal when ingested, the chemicals pose no threat if they do not leak out of the container. The CPSC has no reported injuries for the item sold by Walmart, and two reports of dogs chewing and ingesting the gel from the Costco item. One dog reportedly died from consuming the gel.

"Glycol is well known to be extremely toxic to animals," Whitney explained. "Unfortunately dogs love the stuff because it tastes sweet, so they'll just keep eating it. It's really tragic that somebody's pet died."

The CPSC recommends immediate disuse and disposable of the gel packs, and if they are damaged, to immediately stop using the contents of the bags. Avoid skin contact with the gel and contact the local waste disposal service for instructions on how to dispose of the gel pack.

"Bottom line is, if something's leaking, throw it out," Whitney advised.

Consumers can contact California Innovations for a cash refund of the recalled gel packs. Walmart is also offering a partial refund for the price of the gel pack in the Travelin' Chef Expandable Thermal Food Carrier, and Costco is offering a full refund for the Expandable Insulated Lunch Box with Freezer Gel Pack.

California Innovations did not return a request for comment at the time of publication. For more information on the recall, visit California Innovations' website.



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