Cinnamon products sold at Dollar Tree, Family Dollar have elevated lead levels, FDA says

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to avoid several ground cinnamon products that have elevated levels of lead.

While the products don’t pose the same risk as the recalled applesauce pouches, the FDA warned consumers that prolonged exposure to six cinnamon products sold in sticks and powder form “may be unsafe.”

The FDA is calling on the manufacturers to initiate a recall of the products sold at retail chains, including Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Save A Lot, and under brand names including La Fiesta, Marcum, MK, Swad, Supreme Tradition, and El Chilar.

RECALLED APPLESAUCE PRODUCTS WERE ON CERTAIN STORE SHELVES IN MID-DECEMBER DESPITE GROWING LEAD CASES

The FDA analyzed samples of ground cinnamon products from discount retail stores for lead and chromium after the WanaBana, Schnucks or Weis-brand apple cinnamon pouches, which were manufactured by Ecuador-based Austrofood, led to hundreds of lead poisoning cases in adults and children nationwide.

The FDA said the level of lead found within the recent products is “significantly lower” than the lead that was discovered in the recalled applesauce products. The FDA discovered that those products had been contaminated with lead chromate. However, federal officials say they have limited authority over foreign ingredient suppliers who do not directly ship products to the U.S. 

The lead levels in the cinnamon products being recommended for recall on Wednesday range between 2.03 to 3.4 parts per million lead, which is approximately 2,000 ppm to nearly 5,000 ppm lower than the levels of lead associated with the cinnamon in the applesauce products. 

APPLESAUCE RECALL: STATE AG’S PLEAD WITH FDA FOR TOXIC METAL TESTING IN BABY FOOD INDUSTRY

While they don’t pose the same risk to human health, the levels are still too high, according to Jim Jones, the FDA deputy commissioner for human foods. 

“Food growers, manufacturers, importers and retailers share a responsibility for ensuring the safety of the foods that reach store shelves,” Jones said. “The levels of lead we found in some ground cinnamon products are too high and we must do better to protect those most vulnerable to the negative health outcomes of exposure to elevated levels of lead.” 

According to the FDA, “prolonged exposure to these products may be unsafe and could contribute to elevated levels of lead in the blood.”

Elevated levels of lead in someone’s diet for over a period of months to years “could contribute to adverse health effects, particularly for the portion of the population that may already have elevated blood lead levels from other exposures to lead,” the FDA said. 

No illnesses have been tied to the affected products to date. 

The FDA’s move underscores how federal health officials are trying to pressure the industry to do more to protect consumers from elevated levels of contaminants. 

In a letter to all cinnamon manufacturers, processors, distributors and facility operators in the U.S., the FDA reiterated that they are required to implement controls to prevent contamination from potential chemical hazards in food. 

The FDA said it will provide an update when it hears back from the companies that voluntarily agree to recall the products. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly included Dollar General as one of the companies listed in the FDA memo. Dollar General is not listed in the memo and is unaffiliated with Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.

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