Vinyl Lunch Boxes Containing Lead Recalled

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a series of efforts to protect the public and the environment from exposure to lead contained in certain children’s lunch boxes.

Spitzer’s office has reached an agreement with Fast Forward, LLC, a wholesaler of consumer products, to recall thousands of children’s lunch boxes identified as an environmental risk. In addition, two of the nation’s largest retailers, WalMart and Target, have voluntarily pulled those lunch boxes from their shelves.

Fast Forward, which imported the lunch boxes from China, has also agreed to establish procedures to prevent it from selling or distributing products that violate hazardous materials laws and to ensure that the recalled lunch boxes are disposed of in accordance with New York’s environmental rules.

"The recall of these children’s products will protect children and our environment from the damaging effects of lead," Spitzer said. "I commend the distributor and WalMart and Target for acting promptly to address this important matter."

Between March and September 2005, thousands of soft plastic and mesh lunch boxes distributed by Fast Forward were sold by retailers across New York. Lead was used as an ingredient in the lunch boxes to help keep the vinyl stable.

New York retailers that sold the lunch boxes at issue in the Fast Forward recall include: WalMart, Target, Cookies, JC Penney, Sears, Toys R Us, Value City, Rainbow, Marmaxx and RB Distributor. The Fast Forward company’s label appears on the inside of the recalled lunch boxes.

Spitzer’s investigation revealed that some of these vinyl lunch boxes contain levels of lead that exceed environmental protection laws. Laboratory tests determined that certain lunch boxes, specifically those with the comic book heroes Spiderman and Superman, had lead levels that exceeded a state law that limits the levels of lead and other heavy metals in packaging products or other packages.

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause neurological and developmental damage in children.

When Spitzer’s office brought the matter to the attention of two of the nation’s largest retailers, WalMart and Target, both immediately agreed to pull the remaining lunch boxes from their shelves.

In settling the investigation, Fast Forward agreed to recall from consumers and retail store shelves various vinyl lunch boxes featuring Spiderman, Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, and Precious Moments, as well as lunch boxes featuring Rocawear products (see attachment).

New York consumers who return lunch boxes to the retailer where each lunch box was purchased by February 28, 2006 will receive a cash refund with a receipt, or a store credit if they have no receipt. Consumers may also obtain a full refund by returning lunch boxes directly to Fast Forward by February 28, 2006 with a Refund Request Form available from the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Consumers may visit the New York Attorney General’s website, www.ag.ny.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hot Line (800-771-7755) to receive a list of the recalled lunch boxes and the retail stores that sold each style of box or to obtain a Refund Request Form.

Consumers with questions about the lunch box recall may also call Fast Forward, toll free, at 877-244-4433.

Fast Forward agreed to pay $7,000 in civil penalties and costs.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bruce of the Rochester Regional Office.

Attachments:

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