Elevated Lead in Applesauce Pouches [Update]

Updated March 26 with new case totals

WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis brand cinnamon applesauce and apple cinnamon purée pouches have been recalled for high lead levels. Consumers who have purchased these products should not use them as lead is toxic to humans.

Tests performed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have revealed that products are also contaminated with high levels of chromium. There are two forms of chromium – chromium (III) and chromium (VI) which is more toxic. The agency has not yet determined which form of chromium has contaminated these products.

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How Many Illnesses Have Been Reported?

As of March 22, 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has received reports of:

136 confirmed cases

345 probable cases

38 suspected cases

519 total cases

Illnesses have been reported from the following 44 states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, and WV.

The FDA advises parents and caregivers of toddlers and young children who may have consumed these fruit purée pouches to contact their child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood test.

Some Tainted Products May Still Be on Store Shelves

Although recalls have been issued for these products, the FDA stated that as of December 13 it was “aware that recalled WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree was still on the shelves at several Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores in multiple states. FDA is working with the firm to ensure an effective recall. This product should not be available for sale and consumers should not purchase or consume this product as it is potentially contaminated with lead, which can be harmful to health, particularly for children.

Investigation of Cinnamon Manufacturer Austrofoods in Ecuador Timeline

On November 30, Wanabana USA and Austrofood, the cinnamon supplier in Ecuador, released a statement saying that its leading hypothesis to date is that cinnamon is the source of the elevated lead levels in the recalled products. And that the cinnamon used to manufacture the recalled products was supplied by a third-party distribution company Negocios Asociados Mayoristas S.A., operating as Negasmart, in Ecuador.

The FDA is working with its Ecuadorian counterpart to investigate elevated lead levels in cinnamon applesauce pouches. Lead levels in Negasmart’s cinnamon were higher than allowed by Ecuadorian standards and the company has been placed under administrative sanctions, according to Ecuadorian health officials.

In a December 5 update, the FDA said it had begun an onsite inspection of the facility in Ecuador where the cinnamon was produced, and it is collecting samples for testing.

“We’re still in the midst of our investigation. But so far all of the signals we’re getting lead to an intentional act on the part of someone in the supply chain and we’re trying to sort of figure that out,” FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods Jim Jones said in an exclusive interview with Politico on December 14.

In a December 18 update, the FDA stated that it had completed its inspection and sample analysis. Results of these tests showed “extremely high levels of lead contamination, 5110 parts per million (ppm) and 2270 ppm. For context, the international standard-setting body, Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is considering adopting a maximum level of 2.5 ppm for lead in bark spices, including cinnamon, in 2024.”

The FDA also tested 136 samples of products that do not contain cinnamon and they were all negative for elevated lead levels including three WanaBana Smoothie Mango Passionfruit Banana puree samples originally reported as positive for lead by the Agencia Nacional de Regulación, Control y Vigilancia Sanitaria (ARCSA).

Ecuadorian officials from ARCSA told the FDA that Negasmart does not ship products outside of Ecuador. ARCSA says cinnamon from other producers is not contaminated. At this time, no other products will be added to the recall.

In a January 30, 2024 update, the FDA states that it has found no indication that this problem extends beyond the recalled products.

On February 6, 2024, the FDA announced that Ecuadorian health officials determined that Carlos Aguilera of Ecuador, the processor of the ground cinnamon supplied by Negasmart to Austrofoods and later used in recalled apple cinnamon products, is the likely source of lead contamination. The company is not in operation at this time. 

On February 29, 2024, the FDA confirmed that the lead and chromium previously detected in the cinnamon are from lead chromate.

“Historically, lead chromate has been illegally added to certain spices increase to their weight and enhance their color, which increases the monetary value of the adulterated spices. FDA’s leading hypothesis remains that this was likely an act of economically motivated adulteration,” the agency stated.

Recall for Cinnamon Applesauce and Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée Pouches

WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée Pouches Recall

  • Distributed nationwide through online and retail stores
  • WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree in 3-pack pouches of 2.5 oz
  • See the recall posted on the FDA website for specific batch numbers

Schnucks Applesauce Pouch Recall

Sold at Shnucks and Eatwell Markets

  • Schnucks Cinnamon Applesauce Pouch, 12 pk., UPC: 4131801152
  • Schnucks Cinnamon Applesauce Pouch, 4 pk., UPC: 4131801155
  • Schnucks Applesauce Pouch Variety, 20 pk., UPC: 4131801157

Weis Cinnamon Applesauce Pouch Recall

  • Specific lots of UPC 041497216123
Elevated Lead in Apple Sauce

Symptoms of Lead Exposure

Short-term Exposure to Lead

  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain/colic
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia

Longer-term Exposure to Lead

  • Irritability
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Muscle aches, muscle prickling/burning, muscular weakness
  • Tremor
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight loss

Product Liability Lawyers

If your child has eaten these products, you can call our product liability lawyers at 1-888-377-8900 (toll-free) or click here to contact them for a free consultation. Our law firm has a reputation for success in complex lawsuits and is listed in U.S. News and World Report’s The Best Law Firms in America. Our product liability lawyers have been interviewed by The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalLawyers USA, and other publications. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of people hurt or killed by defective items, including dangerous drugs and other medical products.

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