The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents and caregivers not to buy or serve certain pureed fruit pouches marketed for toddlers and young children because they might contain dangerous levels of lead. The agency has received reports of seven illnesses in at least five states possibly linked to contaminated puree.
Two new companies, Schnucks Markets and Weis Markets, announced recalls of certain cinnamon applesauce products on Friday. WanaBana of Coral Gables, Florida, previously recalled of all lots and expiration dates of its apple cinnamon fruit puree on October 29. The FDA said that the recalled products were distributed nationwide and online.
“The FDA is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners to investigate the source and extent of the lead contamination. The investigation is ongoing and additional recalls may be necessary,” the agency said in a statement.
Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems, especially in children. It can damage the brain and nervous system, slow down growth and development, and affect learning and behavior. Lead exposure can also cause anemia, kidney damage, and reproductive problems.
“We urge parents and caregivers to check their pantries and refrigerators for these products and discard them immediately. If your child has consumed any of these products, please contact your health care provider as soon as possible,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner.
The FDA said that the symptoms of lead poisoning may not be obvious at first, but can include abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, fatigue, headache, irritability, and loss of appetite. Children who have eaten the products should be tested for possible lead poisoning, the agency advised.
“We are working with the FDA to determine the source of the lead contamination and to ensure that our products are safe for consumption,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, the CEO of WanaBana. “We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience or concern this recall may cause.”
Schnucks Markets and Weis Markets also issued a joint statement, apologizing to their customers and consumers. “We are committed to providing safe and high-quality products to our customers and consumers,” they said.
The FDA said that heavy metals like lead can get into food products from soil, air, water, or industrial processes. The agency has been working to reduce the levels of heavy metals in foods, especially those consumed by infants and children.
“Lead poisoning is a serious and sometimes fatal condition that can affect anyone, but children are especially vulnerable. Lead exposure can cause irreversible damage to the brain and other organs, and can impair cognitive and behavioral development,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director. “We are working closely with the FDA and state and local health departments to identify and treat the affected children and prevent further exposure.”
– More fruit pouches for kids are being recalled because of illnesses that are linked to lead, Associated Press, November 5, 2023
– FDA says WanaBana fruit puree pouches may contain dangerous levels of lead, ABC News, October 30, 2023
– FDA warns parents after lead in WanaBana fruit puree pouches prompts urgent recall, NBC News, October 30, 2023
– Fruit puree linked to ‘potential acute lead toxicity’ in four kids has been recalled, Florida Keys News, November 4, 2023