Lead may have been intentionally added to the recalled bags of apple juice
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether recalled bags of cinnamon-flavored apple juice, which contained high concentrations of lead and sickened at least 65 children, were intentionally contaminated.
In late October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health alert advising against consuming or purchasing WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches because they may contain elevated levels of lead. Later, the agency added Schnuck and Weis brand products to the recall. The FDA said this week that the agency had received 65 reports of illnesses potentially linked to the products and all of those affected were under 6 years old.
During its investigation, the agency found that the lead may have been added as “an intentional act on the part of someone in the supply chain and we’re kind of trying to figure that out,” said Jim Jones, FDA deputy commissioner for FDA affairs. Human foods, according to Politico, which first reported the development.
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How are apple juice bags contaminated with lead?
The FDA is focusing on the possibility of lead-contaminated cinnamon being added as “economically motivated adulteration,” NBC News reported.
Food makers may use “economically motivated adulteration,” or EMA, by substituting an ingredient “to make it appear better or have a greater value,” according to the FDA. But the agency also says such actions may constitute food fraud and lead to “lead poisoning from adulterated spices and allergic reactions to a substitute hidden ingredient containing only one food allergen.”
The FDA inspected an Austrofoods facility in Ecuador, where WanaBana Cinnamon Apple Fruit Puree Pouches, Schnucks Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches and Variety Packs, and Weis Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches were produced.
The agency is working with officials in Ecuador in its investigation into cinnamon. The US Food and Drug Administration said on December 5 that the spice, which was supplied to Austrofoods by Ecuador-based Negasmart, contained higher levels of lead than Ecuador allows, and the company is currently undergoing an Ecuadorian administrative sanctions process to determine which party is responsible for the contamination. .
The manufacturers likely “did not think this product would end up in a country with a strong regulatory process,” the FDA’s Jones told Politico.
How many people are affected by the apple juice product recall?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received 125 case reports in 22 states in its tracking of the applesauce-cinnamon lead poisoning outbreak. Among those cases:
- 46 confirmed
- 68 possible
- 11 suspected cases.
To be included in these numbers, a person must have high blood levels within three months of taking a product after November 2022. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration could have different case numbers because they collect data differently.) .
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said consumers should not eat or buy WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches, which are sold nationally through Amazon, Dollar Tree and other online stores, Schnucks Brand Cinnamon Apple Sauce Pouches and Variety Pack, and Weis- Cinnamon apple juice pouches.
Contributing: Saleen Martin
Follow Mike Snyder on X and Threads: @mikesnider & com.micegsnider.
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