February 22, 2007 - E&C Dems Question CPSC/FDA About High Lead Levels In Lunch Boxes

Washington, D.C. -- Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats today sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) expressing serious concern about the test methods and findings of the CPSC in regards to the levels of lead in children’s lunch boxes.

According to a recent news report, testing by government scientists on lunch boxes found levels of lead that exceeded the Federal safe standard, but the CPSC misinformed the public of its findings.

Reps. John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protections, Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protections, and Ed Markey (D-MA) have requested additional information from the agencies and will consider holding hearings and writing legislation to address the matter.

"I don’t know what is more troubling - the fact that the Consumer Product Safety Commission knew about the hazardous levels of lead in the lunch boxes that were tested or the fact that nothing was done to prevent them from getting into the hands of children," said Dingell.

Markey said, "Parents shouldn't have to worry whether the lunch boxes they're buying for their kids are laced with lead. Why does the Consumer Product Safety Commission think lead levels in these lunch boxes is OK for children when several states have already banned their sale and the FDA finds the levels problematic? I am very concerned that the Bush Administration's continuing failure to appoint a third commissioner at the CPSC may result in decisions, or inaction, that could endanger children and the public."

"Every day, parents are packing lunches for their children to take to school and unknowingly putting them in lunchboxes that may contain dangerous levels of lead," said Schakowsky. "The CPSC has known about this health hazard at least since last summer but has taken no action, not even warning families about the possible risks of lead poisoning. The Commission’s reluctance to issue recalls or even recommend that stores voluntarily remove dangerous products from their shelves has become an alarming trend at the CPSC. The CPSC has been derelict in its duty, but our letter to the CPSC shows that our Subcommittee will not be. We intend to place a high priority on protecting children and families from unsafe products, and we will demand that CPSC change its posture to join us in that effort."

"I find it absolutely appalling and inexcusable that we are even discussing the levels of lead in children’s products," said Rush. "I'm shocked and extremely concerned that the CPSC missed an opportunity to protect our nation's youth from unnecessary lead hazards in lunch boxes. Congress will do everything within our power to address this important child-safety issue."

The full text of the letter can be found here: CPSC.FDA.022207.CTCP.Lead Lunchbox.pdf

February 22, 2007

CONTACT: Israel Klein (Markey)
Dingell/Energy & Commerce (Committee)
Toure Muhammad (Rush)