Recalled Applesauce May Have Been Intentionally Contaminated With Lead: Reports

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly exploring the possibility that recalled applesauce products could have been intentionally contaminated with high levels of lead.

“The FDA can confirm that one of the theories the agency is exploring regarding the high lead levels in the recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches is the potential that the cinnamon contamination occurred as a possible result of economically motivated adulteration,” an FDA spokesperson told FOX Business said in a statement.

On October 31, WanaBana recalled all WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches as part of an ongoing FDA investigation into lead-contaminated food products. On November 9, WanaBana expanded their recall to include certain Schnucks cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches and variety packs and certain Weis cinnamon applesauce pouches.

As of December 19, 2023, FDA has received 69 complaints/reports of adverse events potentially linked to recalled product. The confirmed complainants, or people for whom an adverse event was submitted, are all under 6 years old, the FDA said.

FDA’s onsite inspection of the Austrofoods facility in Ecuador revealed lead levels that were over 2,000 times higher than proposed standards.

The FDA said samples of cinnamon supplied by Negasmart to Austrofoods revealed “extremely high levels of lead contamination of about 5110 parts per million (ppm) and 2270 ppm.”

However, according to the FDA, the Codex Alimentarius Commission — an international food standards body established jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization — is considering adopting a maximum level of 2.5 ppm for lead in bark spices, including cinnamon, in 2024.

However, given that the investigation is still ongoing, the agency reiterated that this is only one theory it is exploring, and that “additional investigation needs to occur before FDA reaches any conclusions.”

Separately, the CDC reported that it has received over 200 reports of cases from state and local health departments nationwide.

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