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Child Lead Poisoning Associated with Apple Cinnamon Pouches

Granite Law Group

The FDA released updated information related to cases of child lead poisoning associated with the consumption of apple cinnamon food pouches. As of February 23, 2024, the CDC has received reports of 468 cases spanning 44 different states. These figures represent an explosion from the 64 cases spanning 27 different states reported back in December, 2023.

These states include New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

How Did we Get Here?

The FDA investigation started on October 28, 2023. During that time, the Ecuadorian government was conducting their own independent investigation into Ecuadorian companies, Negasmart and Austrofoods. Negasmart supplied raw cinnamon to Austrofoods which was a processing plant. Austrofoods would then sell the cinnamon to food production companies.

Three of the food production companies that Austrofoods sold to where US based makers of children’s apple cinnamon pouches – WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis. These companies distributed their products through online platforms such as Amazon, as well as physical retailers such as Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.

The FDA started receiving results of short-term lead poisoning symptoms in children such as headaches, nausea, and lethargy. It did not take the FDA long to make the connection between the WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis apple cinnamon pouches, the Ecuadorian cinnamon supplier, and the Ecuadorian government’s independent investigation.

Chronology of Events:

A chronology of events can be found in FDA press releases below. In November 3, 2023, the FDA released a safety alert. On November 9, 2023, WanaBana issued a voluntary recall. On November 22, 2023, the FDA released detailed information concerning their investigation, as well as a throughout update from February 29, 2024.

FDA Advises Parents and Caregivers Not to Buy or Feed WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches to Toddlers and Young Children Because of Elevated Lead Levels | FDA

WanaBana Recalls WanaBana, Weis, and Schnucks Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée Pouches & Cinnamon Apple Sauce Due to Elevated Lead Levels | FDA

Investigation of Elevated Lead & Chromium Levels: Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches (November 2023) | FDA

Cause of Contamination and Child Lead Poisoning Side Effects:

According to Dr. Leonardo Trasande, director of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone Health, the likely culprit of the child lead poisoning originates with soil contamination in the cinnamon harvesting process.

The CDC prohibits blood lead levels from exceeding 3.5 micrograms per deciliter. In the case of the report lead cases here, the CDC founds levels that were up to 200 times higher than permissible levels.

According to the CDC, lead poisoning can cause serious health problems in children, especially those under the age of six. Health issues from lead poisoning include brain damage, nervous system damage, slowed growth and development, and learning and behavioral problems. Prolonged lead exposure at high levels can even cause death. Health Effects of Lead Exposure | Lead | CDC

Under the products liability laws, all manufacturers and distributors of a defective product are held strictly liable. In this case, that would potentially include WanaBana, Schnucks, Weis, Amazon, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar.

In short, it might be years before parents learn just how bad the child lead poisoning exposure was. Pediatricians would need to monitor the child’s ability to timely meet developmental milestones. Fortunately, under the tolling provisions of the statute of limitations, parents will have until the child reaches the age of 20 (in New Hampshire) and 21 (in Massachusetts) to determine the child’s prognosis before having to file a lawsuit.

Major news outlets have been reporting on these developing stories.

FDA warns consumers to stop using six brands of ground cinnamon found to have high levels of lead | CNN

Cinnamon processor named as likely source of lead contamination in applesauce, FDA says | CNN

FDA Urges Recall of Lead-Tainted Cinnamon Brands – The New York Times (

The FDA is investigating whether lead in applesauce pouches was deliberately added : NPR


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