Ground Cinnamon Likely Caused The Applesauce Lead Poisoning

An investigation has pinpointed the source of a recent applesauce pouch recall.

Last month, the FDA announced a recall on multiple brands of applesauce pouches sold at multiple grocery chains including Amazon, Dollar Tree, Weis Markets, Schnucks, and Eatwell Markets. The products were recalled due to their elevated lead levels, which adversely affected more than 50 children.

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The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the American distributor of these applesauce products, WanaBana, along with Ecuadorian food distributor Austrofood, conducted a root cause investigation and have pinpointed the cause of the issue. As it turns out, the lead contamination had nothing to do with the apples, but rather the cinnamon that flavored them.

Cinnamon as a source of lead poisoning, explained

WanaBana and Austrofood believe that the cinnamon added to the applesauce, which was supplied by a third-party distribution company in Ecuador called Negasmart, was the source of the elevated lead in the pouches.

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The FDA has determined that cinnamon from Negasmart is not imported directly to the U.S., so there's no need to go rifling through your pantry and throwing out any ground cinnamon just yet. Cinnamon imports from other countries are currently being screened for lead by the FDA.

Lead poisoning is especially concerning for children, because they're more susceptible to its adverse affects—but lead is dangerous for everyone. While 57 cases of elevated lead levels have been reported to the FDA, there's a good chance that not all of them have been documented or reported. The FDA says that unlike pathogen-based illnesses, there's no method to "link lead exposure to a specific source, which can make establishing a causal relationship complicated."

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These are the recalled applesauce pouch products

The recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches came from the WanaBana brand, sold at Amazon and Dollar Tree, and Schnucks brand, sold at Schnucks grocery stores and Eatwell Market. Weis brand is sold at its namesake grocery store.

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If you've got any at home, simply empty the package's contents into the trash, then dispose of the packaging separately. This prevents any potential harm to those who might consume the pouches after you've disposed of them. And check both your fridge and pantry, since the pouches remain shelf stable for a long time. Images of the recalled brands can be found here.

With the way modern food distribution works, it's easy to forget that our snacks often take a long and winding journey to reach our grocery store shelves. Just like in any industry, safety issues in food production can arise, so it's important to keep on top of them.

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