Food & Drink

Patients in lead poisoning outbreak top 350; median age is 1 year old

The CDC is reporting that more than 350 children are now involved in an outbreak of lead poisoning traced to pouches of cinnamon applesauce.

The outbreak was first announced in October after the Food and Drug Administration received information from North Carolina officials in September about children with elevated levels of lead in their blood. Traceback work showed a common source — cinnamon applesauce sold in pouches.

The implicated applesauce was made in Ecuador by Austrofoods. Negasmart supplied the cinnamon in the applesauce pouches to Austrofoods. Officials found the lead in the cinnamon was 2,000 times the amount considered safe. Elevated levels of chromium were also found in the product.

In an update last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported it is investigating 354 cases of lead poisoning: Confirmed cases 93, probable cases 233, and suspect cases 28. The patients are spread across 41 states. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reporting that it is investigating 89 cases with patients ranging in age from less than one to 53 years old, with the median age being one year old. There could be some overlap so the CDC and FDA numbers should not be added together.

Three brands of cinnamon applesauce pouches have been recalled. They are Wanabana, Schnucks and Weis. The pouches were sold individually nationwide. Some of the Schnucks pouches were sold in variety packs. All dates and lots of the products are subject to recall. (see photos above).

The FDA and CDC recommend that parents not use the applesauce and throw it away or return it to the place of purchase. The applesauce has a very long shelf life, so consumers urge the public to check their homes for the recalled products.

About lead poisoning
Parents and caretakers should consult a healthcare provider and ask for blood tests if they suspect a child may have been exposed to the recalled cinnamon applesauce products. 

Short-term exposure to lead could result in the following symptoms: headache, abdominal pain/colic, vomiting, and anemia. 

Longer-term exposure could result in additional symptoms: irritability, lethargy, fatigue, muscle aches or muscle prickling/burning, constipation, difficulty concentrating/muscular weakness, tremors, and weight loss. 

Permanent consequences can lead to developmental delays and brain damage.

About chromium exposure
Symptoms of chromium exposure from eating contaminated food may be nonspecific. Some people might not experience any symptoms. Ingestion of chromium exceeding dietary recommendations may result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and renal and hepatic dysfunction.

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