More Ground Cinnamon Recalls Issued For Lead Exposure Risks After Apple Sauce Probe

The ground cinnamon recalls affect products sold by Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Save A Lot and other retailers, which were all found to contain elevated levels of lead that pose serious health risks for children.

Federal regulators have announced multiple ground cinnamon recalls after an investigation into the source of contamination for recalled cinnamon apple sauce pouches that were distributed nationwide, which have already been linked to hundreds of lead poisoning cases among children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to cinnamon manufacturers, processors, distributors and facility operators on March 6, indicating that some of their products had dangerously high levels of lead contamination. The agency called for all of the products to be recalled because they are unsafe for long-term consumption.

The announcement comes in the wake of a WanaBana fruit pouch recall issued in October 2023, after sample testing identified high lead concentrations in several batches of the cinnamon-flavored apple sauce. The recall was expanded the next month, to include additional products distributed under Weis and Schnucks brands, after investigators also identified high lead levels in those cinnamon-flavored fruit pouches.

Early in the investigation, officials suspected the contamination may have been intentional, as sample testing only identified lead in products containing cinnamon, and revealed high lead levels in ground cinnamon supplied by Negasmart, a third-party distribution company also located in Ecuador. The agency suspects lead chromate was intentionally added by a now-defunct processor to increase profits from the spice, even at the sake of children’s safety.

As of February 23, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a total of 468 cases of lead exposure linked to the recalled apple sauce pouches across 44 states, including 111 confirmed cases, 320 probable cases and 37 suspected cases.

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In the letter, the FDA notes that lead levels found in the various ground cinnamon products are significantly lower than those found in the fruit pouches, but continue to pose serious health risks. The recalled cinnamon apple sauce had lead levels that ranged from 2,270 ppm to 5,110 ppm, and these additional products contained levels ranging from 2.03 ppm to 3.4 ppm. However, since health officials widely agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children, the FDA warns that they may still be unsafe with prolonged exposure.

“Based on FDA’s previous and ongoing sampling of imported cinnamon products, the agency refused entry of certain cinnamon products with elevated lead levels; however, like all of our surveillance activities, these monitoring programs only evaluate a small subset of the commodity being imported,” the agency warns. “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of manufacturers, processors, distributors, and other facility operators to ensure the safety of the products that enter the U.S. market.”

Ground Cinnamon Recall

The FDA letter calls for the recall of six ground cinnamon products, including those sold by Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, Save A Lot, La Superior SuperMercados, SF Supermarket, Patel Brothers and La Joya Morelense. A full list of the recalled product details, including lot numbers, expiration dates and lead concentrations, is available in the letter.

One ground cinnamon recall was announced on the same day by Colonna Brothers of New Jersey. While the product was not listed in the FDA letter, the recall notice indicates the products are being pulled from store shelves due to elevated lead levels.

The affected products include 1.5oz Marcum Ground Cinnamon and 2.25oz Supreme Tradition Ground Cinnamon. The recalled ground cinnamon products were distributed nationwide through discount retail stores and mail order. The products come in a clear plastic jar labeled either “Marcum Cinnamon Ground 1.5oz” or “Supreme Tradition Ground Cinnamon 2.25oz.” As of yet, no injuries have been reported.

Officials are advising consumers to dispose of these products immediately if they have them in their homes or to return them for a full refund. Consumers showing symptoms of lead poisoning are being advised to contact their primary care provider for further evaluation.

Consumers with questions may contact Colonna Brothers customer service at 201-864-1115 between the hours of 9-5 EST.

Lead Poisoning Risks

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can cause permanent brain damage, nervous system injuries, cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, or other long-term health consequences. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, as they are still developing and do not usually show exposure signs or symptoms.

While short-term exposure can cause headaches, abdominal pain, vomiting, and other minor symptoms, longer exposure may result in more severe symptoms, including lethargy, muscular weakness, confusion, or tremors.

According to pediatricians, there is no safe lead exposure level for children, and any exposure may increase the risk of developing serious or permanent injuries, or even death.

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