FDA Warns Lead Contamination May Have Been Intentional

(RightWing.org) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues thousands of recalls, safety alerts, and market withdrawals annually. As of December 16, the federal agency has issued 746 notices involving food and beverage products for 2023. Having various edible items make the list isn’t unusual, with an average of slightly more than two per day. However, having the feds claim that contamination could be intentional is rare.

On December 12, the FDA issued a statement announcing the launch of an “onsite investigation” of an Ecuador-based facility owned by Austrofood, Cia. Ltda. The company provided applesauce to another Ecuadorian company called WanaBana, which eventually distributed the edible product to the United States.

WanaBana USA issued a voluntary recall through the FDA of all lots of the company’s cinnamon fruit purée pouches in early November after discovering elevated lead levels in some of the product units. The South American-based company sold the product in three packs of 2.5-ounce pouches in the US under three brand names: WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis.

The FDA’s announcement reported that the federal agency was collecting cinnamon samples from Astrofoods’ Ecuadorian facility for laboratory analysis. The statement also advised that it was working with government authorities in Ecuador to gather information about Negasmart, the company that supplies cinnamon to Austrofood. Fortunately, that probe confirmed that no other tainted products were distributed to the US except those sent to WanaBana USA.

Then, on December 14, POLITICO published an article detailing its conversation about the recall and resulting investigation with Jim Jones, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. He confirmed that the agency was in the “midst” of its investigation. Alarmingly, he advised that the evidence investigators collected indicated that the tainted products resulted from “an intentional act” perpetrated by “someone in the supply chain.” He said the FDA was still trying to “figure that out.”

Tracking down the source of contamination is critical to public health. The FDA warned that lead is toxic to humans and can impact people regardless of their current health status and age. Exposure to the chemical is difficult to detect in children.

The FDA advised parents to check with their healthcare provider to arrange blood lead testing for their children if they were exposed to any of the three recalled WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit purée pouches.

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