Bondi asked to get involved in pallet wars

By John O'Brien | Jan 6, 2011


ORLANDO, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - New Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is being asked to investigate the wood pallet industry by a rival company that claims former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd should be "ashamed" of the testimony he gave on his way out of office.

Intelligent Global Pooling Systems, which rents out all-plastic pallets with embedded radio frequency identification tags, wrote Bondi and the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday. It claims the wood pallet industry asked Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, to write a letter questioning the safety of plastic pallets.

Dodd's letter, sent Wednesday to Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg, says the FDA should notify the food industry that plastic pallets that contain the flame retardant decaBDE may poison food.

"Americans need assurance that the food they buy from their markets is safe to consume," wrote Dodd, whose seat is being taken by former Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. "This requires accountability throughout the logistical chain - from farmers, to suppliers, to the shipping of containers that transport food."

Dodd wrote that decaBDE is known to "leach out of plastic" and that the Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about possible negative health impacts. Dodd says the plastic pallets containing decaBDE are "inappropriate" for transporting food.

Intelligent Global Pooling Systems said there is no truth to Dodd's letter and wants Bondi and the DOJ to begin a formal investigation into "the misleading and abusive trade practices" of the wood pallet industry.

"Asking a politician in his final minutes in office to submit a letter... at the obvious request of the wooden pallet industry is cynical and disingenuous," wrote Bob Moore, chairman and CEO of iGPS.

"There is not a morsel of truth in former Sen. Dodd's letter. Either the Senator was purposely misled or he decided to do a friend a last-minute favor by repeating spoon-fed mistruths and scare tactics."

The company says its pallets are easily cleaned, do not absorb fluids that can cross-contaminate food and never require treatment with toxic pesticides or fungicides. It also says the identification tags also allow manufacturers and growers to track shipments and implement quick safety recalls when necessary.

Finally, iGPS says its pallets are better for the environment, claiming iGPS customers have prevented the destruction of nearly 750,000 trees over the past five years.

"Those reading Sen. Dodd's letter should ask themselves the following questions: Was Sen. Dodd aware of a series of independent tests that showed that up to 30 percent of wood pallets contain E. Coli and Salmonella, just to name a few of the deadly pathogens that are commonly found on wood pallets?" Moore wrote.

"Was Sen. Dodd aware that millions of important drugs were recalled in 2010 because of wood pallet contamination? Was Senator Dodd aware that wood pallets were responsible for some of the worst and most deadly fires in the nation? Frankly, Sen. Dodd should be ashamed of leaving office in this fashion."

In his letter, Dodd recommended the FDA develop education and training materials for FDA inspectors to help them identify plastic pallets that contain decaBDE.

The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association posted Dodd's letter on its website.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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