WanaBana puree pouch recall—’may contain elevated levels of lead’

wanabana puree pouch

Back in October, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a recall on WanaBana purée pouches — specifically the cinnamon applesauce varieties — due to the potential for elevated levels of lead. Now, the agency is issuing the results of its investigation, finding that recalled fruit pouches from the food processing facility contained lead levels that were 2,000 times higher than safe industry standards.

The facility, which is in Ecuador, reportedly processed cinnamon that contained “extremely high levels of lead contamination,” impacting fruit pouches sold throughout the U.S. by WanaBana, Weis, and Shnucks. The FDA notes that potentially impacted products have been available for purchase through multiple retailers, including Amazon, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar/Dollar Tree combination stores, and other online outlets.

It seems U.S.-based agencies have “limited jurisdiction” over the case, though the agency believes the contamination might have been a deliberate effort on behalf of one or more individuals.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating at least 205 reports of lead poisoning across 33 states, including in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and dozens others. All of the potential illnesses are said to be among children aged nine and under — a particularly frightening stat given that lead poisoning is most dangerous to children under the age of six, whose bodies and immune systems are still developing and growing. The FDA has noted at least 69 reports of illnesses — all in children under six.

Given that there is no safe amount of lead exposure to humans, keeping an eye on your little ones is crucial, especially if they’ve eaten potentially recalled products. Patients will need to seek a blood test for lead if there has been suspected exposure, regardless of age, as a spokesperson for the CDC told CBS News. AustroFood, manufacturer of the now-recalled cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches, said Monday it will reimburse customers for up to $150 for lead tests.

And though the specific recalled products have been pulled from shelves, authorities are investigating other sources of potential lead contamination from the same facility, with increased screening in place for imported cinnamon products into the U.S. ongoing. It’s an unsettling scenario, especially as many begin their holiday baking, so checking in with your doctor or pediatrician is never a bad idea should you have any questions or concerns at all.

Lead is very toxic but the signs of exposure can be difficult to detect so they also recommend asking your child’s healthcare provider for a blood test. “If there’s suspicion that a child may have been exposed to lead, parents should talk to their child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood test.”

Some short-term symptoms can include:

  • Headache

  • Abdominal pain/Colic

  • Vomiting

  • Anemia

Some long term symptoms can include:

  • Irritability

  • Lethargy

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle aches or muscle prickling/burning

  • Occasional abdominal discomfort

  • Constipation

  • Difficulty concentrating/Muscular exhaustibility

  • Headache

  • Tremor

  • Weight loss

“If you have WanaBana brand apple cinnamon puree products in your home, do not eat them or feed them to your children. Dispose of the products immediately,” the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said this fall.