Folks who received free canvas lunchboxes with a logo that reads "Eat Fruits & Vegetables and Be Active" are being urged to dispose of them immediately because they may contain elevated levels of lead.
- PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CHILD HEALTH AND DISABILITY PREVENTION PROGRAM
- PACK SOMETHING ELSE : These canvas lunchboxes are being recalled by health officials because they could contain elevated levels of lead.
# According to health officials, about 56,000 of the potentially lead-contaminated lunchboxes were distributed throughout the state to students of low-income families. In addition, approximately 247,000 similar lunchboxes were distributed as promotional items for the Network for a Healthy California and the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition program. The number of lunchboxes dispersed in SLO County is unknown.
According to Janice Babos, the SLO County Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program coordinator, there are no known cases of lead poisoning resulting from the use of the lunchboxes. Still, if parents are concerned, they are being urged to contact a physician.
Babos said that contracting lead poisoning from the bags is unlikely, but symptoms and signs include behavioral problems, learning disabilities, stomachaches, and--in the most severe cases--death.
According to a county press release on the recall, the lunchbox problem has its roots halfway around the world.
Concern about recent news updates regarding lead in toys manufactured in China prompted health educators at the Sacramento County Department of Public Health to test the lunchboxes. In late July, the Sacramento County Environmental Health Department notified the California Department of Public Health of a positive lead check swab test on one of the green, soft-sided lunch boxes. Additional testing performed at the recommendation of the state Attorney General's Office confirmed the finding.
People can return the lunch boxes to one of three collection sites in the county: 286 S. 16th St., Grover Beach 2191 Johnson Ave., San Luis Obispo and 5575 Capistrano Ave., Atascadero.
For more information about lead poisoning, visit www.slocounty.ca.gov/health/prevention/childlead.htm.