Contamination of applesauce bag may have been intentional: FDA official – The Hill

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recalled applesauce bags that caused many children to suffer lead poisoning may have been intentionally contaminated.

Jim Jones, FDA’s deputy commissioner for human foods, said that while the investigation is ongoing, there are signs of intentional poisoning of the puree.

“We are still in the middle of our investigation,” Jones said in an interview with Politico. “But so far all the signals we’re getting point to an intentional act on the part of someone in the supply chain, and we’re trying to figure that out somehow.”

Weis, WanaBana and Schnucks are the three brands that sold the contaminated bags, and they all have ties to a manufacturing facility in Ecuador. The facility is currently under review by the FDA.

Jones told Politico he believes the facility did not believe the contaminated applesauce would have ended up in countries with a strict regulatory process.

“My instinct is that they didn’t think this product would end up in a country with a strict regulatory process,” Jones said. “They thought it would end up in places where something like that couldn’t be detected.”

The FDA has continued to explore a number of theories about why and by whom the applesauce was contaminated, but the agency currently believes it was economically motivated. Basically, the ingredients could have been changed to give the products more value and to be able to sell them at a higher price.

Jones told Politico that despite the United States’ existing food safety laws, it will always be difficult to “absolutely stop” intentional contamination.

An FDA spokesperson also said the agency “has limited authority over foreign ingredient suppliers who do not ship their products directly to the United States because their foods undergo further manufacturing/processing before export.”

Elevated lead levels in children were first detected by state and local authorities during standard blood tests recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to reduce lead exposure in children under 6 years of age.

“We will investigate this data and find those responsible and hold them accountable,” Jones said.

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