CDC Investigates Over 200 Cases of Lead Poisoning Linked to Recalled Fruit Pouches

Anna Garrison - Author

Dec. 20 2023, Updated 9:47 a.m. ET

Bowl of apple cinnamon fruit puree
Source: iStock

The Gist:

  • On Oct. 31, 2023, WanaBanana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree was voluntarily recalled by Wanabana LLC.
  • Then, on Nov. 3, 2023, two additional companies also voluntarily recalled fruit puree pouches due to possible contamination.
  • All the fruit puree pouches being recalled are due to potential contamination with lead.
  • On Dec. 14, 2023, the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Jim Jones, announced the pouches may have been purposefully contaminated.
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UPDATE Dec. 20, 2023, at 9:23 a.m. ET: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating 205 cases of lead poisoning across 33 states as a result of contaminated applesauce.

Before you go grocery shopping, it's always important to double-check for food recalls, especially regarding things like fruits and vegetables. Beginning in late October 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert for recalled fruit pouches due to lead contamination. Here's your guide to which brands are on the recall list.

Apples with cinnamon on them preparing to be puréed.
Source: iStock
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Here is the list of fruit pouches the FDA has recalled for possible lead contamination.

On Oct. 31, 2023, the FDA announced that WanaBana agreed to voluntarily recall its apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches. The product was recalled after an initial investigation by the FDA, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) following four children falling ill and developing "acute lead toxicity."

Testing then revealed "extremely high concentrations of lead" in the product.

On Nov. 3, 2023, two more companies voluntarily recalled apple cinnamon fruit puree products: Schnucks-branded and Weis-branded.

In total, this means that the current list of companies with fruit pouches being recalled includes the following:

  • WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches
  • Schnucks Markets cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches
  • Weis Markets cinnamon applesauce pouches
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Apples and sticks of cinnamon.
Source: iStock

As of Nov. 6, 2023, the FDA reported seven illnesses across five states of children or toddlers with elevated blood lead levels.

The FDA advises that consumers who have recently purchased fruit puree pouches from WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis should not eat and discard them. If you have already consumed the contaminated product, you are advised to seek out a healthcare professional for a blood test.

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On Dec. 14, 2023, the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Jim Jones, told Politico that the fruit pouches may have been contaminated intentionally.

"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," Jones stated.

All three contaminated brands are linked to a manufacturing facility in Ecuador that is being inspected by the FDA.

According to Politico, the FDA has not formally drawn any conclusions about the way the lead was added to products. However, one of its theories is that the lead contamination was "economically motivated," meaning ingredients that were altered to appear better quality, so that companies can upsell cheaper items.

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fruit pouch recall list

On Dec. 20, 2023, the CDC announced that it is investigating 205 lead poisoning cases linked to the consumption of contaminated applesauce, per CBS News.

According to USA Today, the FDA has discovered that the cinnamon in contaminated fruit pouches contains 2,000 times the recommended amount of lead allowed. The agency gave an update on its investigation on Dec. 18.

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Symptoms of lead poisoning, acute or otherwise, can be very severe.

Lead is toxic and exposure can lead to a number of severe symptoms, including developmental delays in children. While it might not be apparent right away that your child has lead poisoning, according to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Behavioral changes

The FDA also encourages people to remember that products like fruit puree pouches have long shelf lives, so if you have these products in your pantry from months ago, it might be a good idea to get rid of them rather than eat them.

This article, originally published on Nov. 8, 2023, has been updated.

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