Reports indicate that nearly two dozen toddlers across 14 states have been sickened by lead poisoning linked to previously recalled apple sauce pouches sold by Schnuck Markets Inc., Weis, and WanaBana, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The brands — which first issued a recall of their products a few weeks ago — were sold in-store and online. And if you still have any in your pantry, the FDA says they should be disposed of immediately.
Why are the apple pouches being recalled?
On October 28, 2023, the FDA, working in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, began an investigation after four children were found to have heightened levels of lead in their blood, indicating the possibility of acute lead toxicity, per the recall notice.
During the investigation, it was discovered that WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches were a potential shared source of exposure. These pouches were found to contain significantly increased concentrations of lead. Since then, similar concentrations of lead have been found in Schnuck and Weis-brand apple pouches.
“WanaBana USA has initiated a voluntary recall of the affected batches and is working closely with the FDA to investigate the source of the contamination,” the company shared in a recall notice posted to its website. “The company is committed to ensuring the safety of its products and the well-being of its consumers.”
In early November, Schnuck Markets also released a statement, saying that customers who purchased the product should stop using it immediately. Per the FDA, Weis also “reported an affected lot number,” and noted that, to date, “there have been no injuries reported related to Weis products.”
“As of November 13, 2023, there have been 22 reports of illness potentially linked to recalled product submitted to FDA,” the recall notice states. These reports, which all took place between October 17, 2023 to November 7, 2023, span across 14 states including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and one unknown state.
In addition to the recall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Alert Network Health Advisory to inform doctors, health departments, and clinicians to consider the possibility of illness due to lead exposure and report cases to their local health authorities.
Which apple pouches are included in the recall?
The recall includes Schnucks-brand cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches, and WanaBana-brand apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches, and Weis cinnamon applesauce pouches. Parents should stop using them immediately.
- WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches were sold nationally through multiple retailers, including Dollar Tree and Amazon, and online.
- Schnucks cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches and variety packs were sold nationally across Schnucks and Eatwell Markets grocery stores.
- Weis cinnamon applesauce pouches are sold nationally at Weis grocery stores.
To check if you have one of the recalled highchairs, take a look at the lot number and UPC codes. Cross-reference to these numbers, which are included in the recall:
- WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree in 3-pack pouches of 2.5 oz.
- Schnucks Cinnamon Applesauce Pouch, 12 pk. with UPC: 4131801152
- Schnucks Cinnamon Applesauce Pouch, 4 pk. with UPC: 4131801155
- Schnucks Applesauce Pouch Variety, 20 pk. with UPC: 4131801157
- Weis Cinnamon Apple Sauce 90g, with affected lot number 05023:28
What parents need to know about lead poisoning
“No safe level of lead in children’s blood has been identified,” the CDC warns. Exposure to lead is harmful and can potentially be deadly, especially for children.
Lead toxicity is so dangerous because it primarily targets the central nervous system — and for children, especially children under 6, their nervous systems are still developing, making them particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning.
Children may not have any obvious immediate symptoms of lead poisoning, though some symptoms could present, including headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, anemia, constipation, lethargy, and irritability, among others.
The CDC warns that when a child is exposed to large amounts of lead, a severe neurological event is possible, including seizures, coma, or encephalopathy, which can result in brain damage.
“Parents and caregivers of children who may have consumed recalled products should contact the child’s healthcare provider about getting a blood test for lead,” the CDC states.
What should parents do if they have the recalled product?
According to the recall notice, consumers who have purchased the affected products are “urged to stop using the product immediately.” The agency and companies are directing parents to return the affected products to the place of purchase for a full refund.
“Parents and caregivers of toddlers and young children who may have been exposed to lead should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care,” the FDA notice states.