Federal health officials are expanding an investigation into potentially lead-containing bags of apple cinnamon fruit puree marketed to children amid reports of more illnesses and more product recalls.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it had received reports of seven illnesses in at least five states that may be linked to contaminated puree.
Two new companies, Schnucks Markets of St. Louis and Weis Markets of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, announced recalls of certain cinnamon applesauce products because they may contain high levels of lead. WanaBana of Coral Gables, Florida, previously recalled all batch codes and expiration dates of its apple cinnamon fruit puree.
Consuming the contaminated products could result in “acute toxicity,” FDA officials said. Parents and caregivers should not purchase or serve the cinnamon applesauce products, which are sold through several retailers, including Amazon, Dollar Tree, and at Schnucks and Eatwell Markets grocery stores.
Children and others who consumed the products should be tested for possible lead poisoning, the agency said.
The investigation began in North Carolina, where health officials are investigating reports of four children with elevated blood counts linked to the WanaBana product. State health officials analyzed several batches of the product and found “extremely high” levels of lead. The FDA confirmed the results.
The FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network is leading the investigation in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health authorities.
Lead is toxic to people of all ages, but can be especially harmful to children. Most children do not experience any obvious symptoms. Therefore, it is important that children exposed to this exposure be tested to check the levels of lead in their blood. Short-term exposure to lead can cause symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain, vomiting and anemia, the FDA says.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, heavy metals like lead can enter food products through soil, air, water or industrial processes. Lead exposure can seriously harm children’s health by causing damage to the brain and nervous system and slowing growth and development. According to the AAP, there is no known safe level of lead exposure.