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Posted November 16, 2023

Toxic Levels of Lead Found in Cinnamon Applesauce

WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches have been recalled after being linked, as of December 5, 2023, to 64 reports of illness, including four children with potential lead toxicity. Testing has confirmed that recalled WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree contains extremely high concentrations of lead, according to the FDA, and investigation by the agency’s Coordinated Outbreak Response & Evaluation (CORE) Network and CDC is ongoing.

Schnucks was informed by its cinnamon supplier that elevated levels of lead were found in the cinnamon raw material used in its recalled pouches. Lead contamination in a known concern with herbs and spices, and ConsumerLab tests of cinnamon have revealed elevated levels of lead, as well as coumarin, a compound that may be toxic to the liver and a potential carcinogen, in some cinnamon products.

Exposure to lead, even at low levels, is associated with neurological impairment, and in children, learning disabilities and lower IQ scores. The levels of lead found in these products exceeds the recommended daily lead exposure for children less than 6 years of age and women of childbearing age and can potentially cause serious injury. Symptoms of lead toxicity include abdominal pain, headache, changes in blood pressure, dizziness, kidney and brain damage. Chronic exposure to lead has been linked to kidney, liver, and bone damage in humans.

Consumers should not eat, sell, or serve these products, and should discard them. The FDA also warned parents that most children have no obvious immediate symptoms of lead exposure, so parents should talk to their child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood test if there is suspicion their child may have been exposed to lead.

For more details about the recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches, use the links below.
November 30, 2023: Wanabana USA determined the source of contamination for applesauce products was the cinnamon, which was provided by a third-party distributor in Ecuador. The FDA and Ecuadorian authorities are currently investigating the source of contamination and working to determine if the contaminated cinnamon was used in other products distributed throughout the U.S.

In an abundance of caution, the agency is currently screening incoming shipments of cinnamon for contamination, though no shipments have tested positive for higher levels of lead to date.

December 11, 2023: The FDA announced that the number of reported adverse events linked with recalled cinnamon apple puree pouches has increased to 64, as noted above. All of the cases have been reported in children ages 6 and younger. FDA analysis of one sample of WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree from Dollar Tree found it contained 2.18 parts per million (ppm) of lead, which is more than 200 times greater than the FDA’s proposed action level of 0.01 ppm in its draft guidance for fruit purees and similar products intended for babies and young children. The concentration of lead found in the sample means that a single, 71-gram pouch of WanaBana would contain 154.78 mcg of lead – far surpassing tolerable levels even for adults.

January 5,2024: High levels of chromium, which can also be toxic, have also been found in samples of the raw material used in these product. It is possible that the cinnamon ingredient was adulterated with lead chromate, which adds a darker red coloration and has been used to adulterate other spices such as turmeric, which is why ConsumerLab tests turmeric powders for lead (CDC Update 2024).

For more information, use the link below.

Investigation of Elevated Lead Levels: Applesauce Pouches (November 2023)