Lead in Reusable Bags: What You Need to Know
"First of all, the legal threshold of 100 ppm translates into such trace amounts that it would take excessive amounts of time and internal exposure to create even a trace of health concern," he explained. "Second, these bags do not come in direct contact with packaged foods so there is no avenue for 'transfer contamination.' Finally, no direct tie to excessive lead content and polypropylene has ever been established."
Duffy continued, "At one time, laminated nonwoven totes were targeted as being unsafe, and it was later surmised that the lamination material itself (not the polypropylene) was the culprit. Now, in CCF's story, most of the purported unsafe bags have excessive lead in their bottom inserts. Again, it's not the nonwoven polypropylene material, but the polyethylene bottom insert."
Even though the dangers of lead in reusable bags is overstated, that doesn't change the fact that, as Brenner said, "perception is reality when it comes to PR about potentially toxic substances." Distributors should know that the products they sell are safe and why, but should also be prepared to encounter skepticism and resistance due to the negative media attention.
"The important take-away for our industry is that as suppliers and distributors we are all fiduciaries of the most trusted asset of the companies who buy our products: their good name," Brenner explained. "The companies who purchase promotional products—whose name is going on the products—are trusting, in effect, that we won't embarrass them by putting their name on products that are either not compliant, not safe or not smart."
Fortunately, distributors have a number of methods to show they've done their due diligence when selling products to clients. As Duffy explained, there is one easy way to be certain that a supplier's products are compliant with all federal regulations: ask. "Ask them for specific numbers (e.g., ppm) and for a General Certificate of Conformity to support their findings. Suppliers who have done their research and testing will not hesitate to offer this information. They know that product safety is a competitive advantage and are willing to make the investment in safety and integrity of their products," he said.