Soft plastic bread packaging: lead content and reuse by families

Am J Public Health. 1991 Jun;81(6):756-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.6.756.


The presence of lead in labels painted on soft plastic bread packaging was evaluated. Lead was detected on the outside of 17 of 18 soft plastic bread bags that were analyzed, with an average of 26 +/- 6 mg per bag with lead. Of 106 families questioned, 16 percent of respondents reported turning the bags inside out before reusing for food storage, thus putting food in contact with the lead paint. We estimate that a weak acid, such as vinegar, could readily leach 100 micrograms of lead from a painted plastic bag within 10 minutes. Further, lead and other metals painted on food packaging of any type becomes part of the municipal waste stream subject to incineration and to land-filling. The use of lead in packaging presents an unnecessary risk to public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bread*
  • Educational Status
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Food Handling / standards*
  • Food Labeling / standards*
  • Humans
  • Lead / adverse effects
  • Lead / analysis*
  • New Jersey
  • Plastics
  • Refuse Disposal / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Plastics
  • Lead