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Applesauce recall linked to 64 children sick from high levels of lead in blood, FDA says

The number of children who have fallen ill due to high lead concentrations in grocery store apple cinnamon pouches has risen to 64, and authorities are investigating the source of the contamination.

The FDA has received 64 reports of illnesses potentially linked to recalled cinnamon pouches. Everyone impacted is under 6 years old, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.

Children impacted had high blood lead levels within three months after consuming the recalled products and there have been cases reported in over 20 states, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky and Virginia, the FDA said.

This handout photo show images of applesauce packets recalled due to lead contamination.
This handout photo show images of applesauce packets recalled due to lead contamination.

The illnesses date back to October when the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services launched an investigation into cases involving four children.

The children had elevated blood lead levels, suggesting potential acute lead toxicity, and had all eaten WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches. The NCDHHS analyzed the pouches and found “extremely high concentrations of lead.”

The resulting investigation led to the recall of WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches, Schnucks cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches and variety packs and Weis cinnamon applesauce pouches.

Recalled items sold at Dollar Tree, Weiss and online

Recalled WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches are sold nationally through Amazon, Dollar Tree, and other online stores.

“FDA is aware that recalled WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree product (including recalled three packs) is still on the shelves at several Dollar Tree stores in multiples states,” the FDA wrote in its news release. “This product should not be available and consumers should not purchase this product.”

Schnucks cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches and variety packs are sold at Schnucks and Eatwell Markets grocery stores, while Weis cinnamon applesauce pouches are sold at Weis grocery stores.

FDA working to figure out where contamination happened

In late November, Austrofood and Wanabana USA, the distributor of WanaBana products in the United States, released a statement saying the cinnamon in the pouch is the cause of the elevated lead levels in the recalled products.

The cinnamon, Wanabana USA and Austrofood said, was supplied by an Ecuadorian company called Negasmart.

Ecuadorian authorities said Negasmart produces cinnamon with higher-than-legalized levels of lead and the company is being investigated to determine who is responsible for the contamination.

The FDA has also started an onsite inspection at the Austrofoods facility located in Ecuador.

Lead-in-applesauce pouches timeline: From recalls to 34 poisoned kids in 22 states

How do I know if my child has been impacted and what to do about it

The FDA said children are more susceptible to lead toxicity and most of them have “no obvious immediate symptoms.”

The agency said children who are suffering from lead toxicity may have headaches, abdominal pain and anemia, and should be taken to see a doctor for blood tests if they show these signs.

For more information on the recalls, visit www.tinyurl.com/PouchRecall.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Applesauce pouch recall 2023: Links to high lead levels in 64 kids