RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — State health officials are asking parents to check their pantries to make sure they don’t have any recalled apple cinnamon pouches. The nationwide recall started with an investigation by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
North Carolina health investigators say they found “extremely high concentrations of lead” in multiple lots of Wanabana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches after learning several children in western North Carolina had elevated lead levels.
Dr. Susan Kansagra, the director of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, said investigators examined all kinds of things in the children’s homes, and it turned out all of them had the pouches.
“We were able to then do the testing and discovered this did contain lead,” she explained.
The state health department alerted the FDA, and the company issued a recall. Dr. Kansagra said the source of the lead in the pouches has not been determined.
“We do know that spices are a place where lead has been found in the past in North Carolina,” she noted. “We’ve done studies of spices on the market, and we’ve seen elevated levels in spices. While it’s not for sure here, that could be a potential source.”
Attorney Karl Gwaltney, with the law firm, Maginnis Howard, filed a class action lawsuit against Wanabana on behalf of a Wake Forest family who says their daughter got lead poisoning after eating the pouches. He said it’s important to figure out the source to make sure other products are safe.
“Did it come from the apple? Did it come from the cinnamon? Is that cinnamon being sold to other companies?” Gwaltney questioned.
Dr. Kansagra says that’s part of the FDA’s ongoing investigation, but right now she says it’s extremely important for parents to throw out any recalled pouches they have and to get their children tested for lead if they’ve eaten them. Pediatricians can perform a blood test to check for lead.
“Most kids don’t have immediate symptoms and oftentimes don’t realize children have elevated blood levels,” she noted. “We do know that lead causes many long-term health problems, including brain damage, neurological damage, decreased IQ. It can cause learning problems… that’s why this is really important.”
Click here for the latest updates on the recall.