The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will begin screening incoming shipments of cinnamon from multiple countries for possible lead contamination after dozens of reported illnesses linked to recalled fruit pouches.
More than 30 cases of elevated blood lead levels reported as of Nov. 16 are potentially linked to recalled cinnamon applesauce fruit pouches. The recalled fruit pouches were manufactured in Ecuador and sold under WanaBana, Weis and Schnucks brands, according to the FDA.
Tests of multiple lots of the products indicated they contain extremely high levels of lead. Lead exposure has been associated with health, learning and behavior problems, and there is no known safe level.
To date, sample analysis of WanaBana, Weis and Schnucks fruit puree pouches that do not contain cinnamon are not part of the recall, and have not shown elevated levels of lead.
FDA and other state partners have collected and analyzed additional product samples of fruit puree and applesauce pouches. FDA detected elevated levels of lead in one finished product sample of WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree collected from Dollar Tree. The lead level detected was 2.18 parts per million (ppm), which is “more than 200 times greater than the action level the FDA has proposed in draft guidance for fruit purees and similar products intended for babies and young children,” according to an FDA advisory.
While FDA officials believe the cinnamon used in the recalled pouches is the likely source of contamination, it has not yet been able to collect and test samples of the cinnamon used in the recalled products. The FDA is working with Ecuadorian authorities to investigate the source of the cinnamon and point of contamination, as well as whether any other products are linked to the illnesses.
At this time, the FDA is not aware of any other reports of illness or elevated blood lead level reported for other cinnamon-containing products or cinnamon.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends clinicians do the following:
- Counsel patients and families not to eat the recalled cinnamon-containing apple purée or applesauce products.
- Educate patients and families about the health effects of lead exposure in children and the importance of seeking medical care. Most children have no obvious symptoms, but appropriate screening can detect lead in blood.
- Test children who have consumed a recalled applesauce pouch for lead exposure. Refer to CDC guidance on testing children for lead exposure and AAP clinical guidance for managing lead exposure in children. Recommendations for obtaining BLLs may be available from your local health department or regional Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit.
- Consider lead exposure in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with clinical findings associated with lead poisoning.