FDA Says Another Chemical Found in Tainted Applesauce

The agency found chromium during testing of the recalled products.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

January 8, 2024

2 Min Read
Tainted applesauce also contains chromium.
In addition to high levels of lead in the cinnamon of applesauce pouches previously recalled, the chemical chromium was found.Image courtesy of Viacheslav Besputin / iStock via Getty Images

In FDA’s testing of the recalled applesauce pouches and the cinnamon collected from the Austrofoods facility in Ecuador, the agency also found chromium.

People who ate the recalled products, especially if they had elevated blood lead levels, may have been exposed to chromium and should inform their healthcare provider so they can monitor health and provide supportive care, as needed.

Chromium is a naturally occurring element, the FDA stated. It is an essential trace nutrient important to the diet that exists predominantly in two forms: chromium (III) and chromium (VI). Chromium (VI) is more toxic than chromium (III). Due to limitations in available testing methods, FDA was not able to definitively determine the form of chromium in the cinnamon apple puree sample (i.e., whether the chromium present is chromium (III) or chromium (VI)). The lead-to-chromium ratio in the cinnamon apple puree sample is consistent with that of lead chromate (PbCrO4), which contains chromium (VI), but this is not a definitive indicator that lead chromate or chromium (VI), the more toxic form of chromium, was present. Information on the health effects of eating food contaminated with chromium (VI) are limited. The chromium in lead chromate may also be converted to chromium (III), the less toxic form of chromium, due to the acidity of the applesauce and the stomach.

After additional analysis of both recalled cinnamon apple products and the cinnamon collected from the manufacturer in Ecuador, FDA determined that, in addition to lead, the cinnamon and recalled products also contained a high level of chromium. The level of chromium detected in the two samples of cinnamon yielded 1201 and 531 parts per million (ppm). Because of the limited amount of cinnamon used in the finished product, the level of chromium detected in the reanalysis of FDA samples of the recalled WanaBana Cinnamon Apple Puree product yielded 0.590 and 0.566 ppm.

FDA also conducted testing for arsenic and cadmium, but those elements were not detected above trace levels in the cinnamon collected from the Austrofoods facility or in the recalled product. As part of this investigation, some state partners also conducted testing for toxic elements and only detected elevated levels of lead and chromium.

The health effects of eating food contaminated with chromium (VI), as a constituent of lead chromate, are not well understood. Symptoms of chromium exposure from eating contaminated food may be nonspecific. Some people might not experience any symptoms. Symptoms for children are likely similar to those of adults. Acute ingestion of chromium exceeding dietary recommendations may result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and renal and hepatic dysfunction.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the point of contamination and whether additional products are linked to illnesses, the FDA stated.

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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