Report – Lead Contaminated Apple Pouches Never Tested For Heavy Metals

More details were released today about the lead-contaminated cinnamon applesauce pouches that sickened hundreds of children in the United States last year. Shockingly, these pouches were not tested for heavy metals during manufacturing at an Austrofood facility in Ecuador.

Recalled Applesauce Linked to High Blood Lead Levels in 22 Children

The US Food and Drug Administration conducted an inspection in December and discovered numerous violations, including the failure to sample and test for heavy metals and inadequate sanitary facilities. The inspection also revealed that certain pasteurization steps were not followed properly.

The consequences of consuming these contaminated products have been severe. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked at least 385 reported cases of illness to the fruit puree products across 42 states. Of these cases, 97 have been confirmed, 253 are probable, and 35 are suspected. Children have been particularly affected.

The issue was first discovered in October when children were found to have elevated blood lead levels after consuming cinnamon applesauce products sold under the brands WanaBana, Weis, and Schnucks in the United States. The manufacturer, Austrofood, and the distributor, Wanabana USA, both acknowledged that the cinnamon in the products was the source of the elevated lead levels.

Wanabana initially recalled its apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches. Two weeks later the recall was expanded to include cinnamon applesauce pouches from Schnucks and Weis are subject to a recall.

The FDA inspection report revealed that the Austrofood facility failed to consider cinnamon as a significant hazard requiring preventive control for heavy metals, including lead. In addition, raw materials and finished products were not sampled and tested for heavy metals. Further sampling conducted by the FDA identified high levels of lead in the distributed products.

Disturbingly, the FDA’s recent testing revealed not only elevated lead levels but also elevated levels of chromium. Individuals who consumed the recalled products, particularly those with elevated blood lead levels, may have been exposed to chromium as well. The health effects of chromium in this case are unknown.

The CDC advises discarding all affected products and not consuming any of them due to the absence of a safe level of lead. Those who may have consumed the affected products are urged to consult their healthcare provider.

Lead exposure can have severe health consequences, especially in children, including developmental delays and various physical symptoms. It is suspected that the lead contamination in the cinnamon applesauce pouches may have been an intentional act, according to an FDA official.

While contamination of spices is unfortunately common, efforts must be made to address this issue. Regular lead screening for children is important, particularly at 1 and 2 years of age. It is vital to prioritize children’s health screenings, as routine healthcare may have been disrupted during the pandemic.

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About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

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