N.Y. County Recalls Healthy Eating Program's Lunch Bags Over Lead

Lunch bags made in China and distributed for a program meant to encourage healthy eating are being recalled because they may contain lead, a suburban county health department says.

The recall is "purely precautionary" because authorities hadn't determined how much lead the bags contain, said Nassau County Health Department spokeswoman Cynthia Brown.

However, she said they had confirmed the heavy metal was present in some amount in the material used in the bags, which the Long Island county got through a federal grant.

Nassau County is recalling 169 bags given out between Oct. 11 and 18 to participants in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance program. The insulated bags were printed with the message "fruits and veggies/more matters."

A county employee happened to spot a label inside one of the bags that said the product "may contain lead," Brown said. The label also said the bags were made in China.

Brown said acting Health Commissioner Abby Greenberg was informed late Monday, but it took until Thursday evening to pinpoint the bags' recipients and begin alerting them.

In September, California officials urged consumers not to use 56,000 Chinese-made, potentially lead-tainted lunch boxes that the state Department of Public Health had distributed at health fairs and other events. Those boxes also were part of an effort to promote eating fruits and vegetables.

An Associated Press investigation published in February revealed that government testing has found high levels of lead in the vinyl lining of many children's lunch boxes. Almost every lunch box that contained lead was made in China, which has been under pressure because of the discovery of dangerous toxins in goods ranging from toys to toothpaste.