Fruit bag recalled due to lead poisoning, 52 children sickened

At least 18 more children have become ill from the recently recalled applesauce fruit pouches due to dangerous lead contamination, the Food and Drug Administration said in a recent update.

This brings the total number of children affected to 52.

Children ages 1 to 4 have been diagnosed with lead poisoning in 22 states, the FDA said, as the agency continues to evaluate incoming reports.

Applesauce Pouch Recall Timeline: From recalls to poisoned children in multiple states

How does lead get into applesauce?

Investigators found that the lead in the recalled applesauce bags, which were manufactured in Ecuador and sold under the WanaBana, Schnucks and Weiss brands, contained 2.18 parts per million of lead.

The result was 200 times higher than the FDA’s suggested action level in its draft baby food guidance.

The FDA believes the source of the lead contamination is the cinnamon used in the recalled bags because no lead was found in tests on non-recalled products without cinnamon in them.

Applesauce bags: According to the CDC, 22 young children became ill from consuming high levels of lead in recalled fruit pouches

Recalled apple cinnamon puree pouches are still on store shelves

Despite the recall, WanaBana apple cinnamon puree pouches are still available at several Dollar Tree stores in several states, the FDA said, adding that it is working with the store chain to “ensure an effective recall.”

“This product should not be offered for sale and consumers should not purchase or consume this product because it may be contaminated with lead, which may be harmful, particularly to children,” the FDA said in its update.

The food regulator also recommended that consumers and retailers dispose of the product properly by carefully opening the bag, emptying the contents into a trash can and disposing of the packaging to “prevent others from rescuing the recalled product from the trash.”

The FDA also recommended that users wash their hands thoroughly after disposing of the product and ensure that no spills remain.

Earlier this month, Schnuck Markets Inc. announced in a press release that manufacturer Austrofood SAS had used “cinnamon raw material” with elevated lead content.

Oregon Public Health officials separately determined that six children in the state were poisoned after eating the recalled fruit puree.

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What are the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning?

Lead is toxic to humans and can affect people of all ages and health conditions. According to the FDA, exposure to lead is often difficult to detect and most children have no obvious immediate symptoms.

Lead exposure can only be diagnosed through clinical testing, and the signs and symptoms of lead toxicity vary depending on exposure.

Here are some symptoms of short-term lead exposure:

  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain/colic
  • Vomit
  • anemia

Long-term lead exposure can lead to other symptoms including:

  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • fatigue
  • Muscle pain or muscle tingling/burning
  • Occasional abdominal discomfort
  • constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating/muscle fatigue
  • Headache
  • tremor
  • weight loss

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What does lead exposure do?

According to the CDC, lead exposure can seriously harm a child’s health and lead to long-term health effects, including:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Hearing and speech problems
  • This can lead to negative effects on learning and concentration, the CDC notes.

Contributors: James Powel, Emily DeLetter, USA TODAY