FDA warns of lead contamination in cinnamon products sold at discount stores

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a safety advisory Wednesday that it has detected other ground cinnamon applesauce products contaminated with lead.

Ground cinnamon products that contain lead are: La Fiesta, from La Superior SuperMercados; Marcum, from Save A Lot; MK, from SF Supermarket; Swad, by Patel Brothers; Supreme Tradition, from Dollar Tree & Family Dollar; and Eli Chilar, from La Joya Morelense.

Cinnamon Applesauce BagsFDA

A Dollar Tree spokesperson said in a statement that it has removed all Supreme Tradition products from its stores nationwide.

“We take this situation very seriously,” the spokesperson said. The other retailers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

People should not eat, sell or serve ground cinnamon products and should throw them away, the FDA explained. The products have a long shelf life, she noted.

No illnesses or adverse effects have been reported.

An FDA analysis revealed that all six products had elevated lead levels, ranging from 2.03 to 3.4 parts per million. The FDA has only set limits for lead levels in certain foods; spices are not among them. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has proposed an international safety standard of 2.5 parts per million for spices containing cinnamon.

(FDA investigates whether bags of cinnamon applesauce were intentionally contaminated)

Lead exposure can be harmful to both children and adults, but high levels can be especially dangerous for children, as they can cause serious health problems, including learning and behavioral problems and lower IQ. according to the FDA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other problems can include brain and nervous system damage, as well as hearing and speech problems.

The warning follows the recall of lead-contaminated applesauce and cinnamon bags from the Florida-based company WanaBana USA. According to the CDC, as of February 23, there have been 468 reports of confirmed, suspected and probable cases of lead poisoning in 44 states. Many of those affected were young children.

According to the agency, cinnamon was the most likely source of lead contamination in applesauce pouches. Following the recall, the FDA sampled ground cinnamon products from discount stores for lead contamination.

It is unclear whether the contaminated products the FDA identified Wednesday came from the same supplier as WanaBana. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Laurie Beyranevand, director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Graduate School of Law, said it wouldn’t be unusual for the cinnamon to come from the same supplier.

“Given the complexity of the food supply chain, it is likely that contaminated cinnamon ended up in many different products,” he added.

Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, a nonprofit group that investigates the safety of the food system, called the FDA warning “alarming.”

“It shows that the problem is more widespread than we might believe,” he said.