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FDA Reveals Adulteration in Recalled Applesauce Could Be Intentional

FDA eyes one theory of high levels of lead in applesauce pouches.

Kristen Kazarian

December 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Tainted applesauce could be purposeful
FDA considers idea that applesauce tainting could be deliberate.Image courtesy of US Federal Drug Administration

There is a new twist to the October recall of applesauce pouches. The adulterated product might have been a deliberate act.

The lead contamination in recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches that potentially poisoned at least 65 children may have been intentional, the Food and Drug Administration said last week.

FDA Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods Jim Jones said that while the investigation is still ongoing, signs point to an intentional act to poison the puree, Politico reported.

“We’re still in the midst of our investigation,” Jones said in an interview with Politico. “But so far, all of the signals we’re getting lead to an intentional act on the part of someone in the supply chain and we’re trying to sort of figure that out.”

The FDA has been investigating the lead contamination in the cinnamon-flavored applesauce products from Florida-based food manufacturer WanaBana since the end of October.

The recall later expanded to include Weis and Schnucks brand cinnamon applesauce pouches due to elevated lead levels.

The agency has honed in on the cinnamon specifically as the source of the lead.

A spokesperson for the FDA said that one of the agency’s current theories is that the cinnamon contamination was the result of “economically motivated adulteration.” In other words, using a cheaper product than what is called for.

FDA has limited authority to verify foreign ingredients that are not shipped directly to the US. Being the ingredient was used in a product shipped from Ecuador, it is likely the product was verified; not every included ingredient.

Earlier this month the FDA visited the Ecuadorean plant that produced the fruit pouches. An FDA team collected samples from the Austrofood plant that shipped the recalled applesauce pouches sold widely at Dollar Tree and other stores across the US.

The agency said health officials in Ecuador found that cinnamon from Austrofood's supplier had higher levels of lead than the country allows.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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