The lead was found in 400-gram boxes (about 14 oz.) of the baby cereal during a regulatory inspection in Zhejiang province in Eastern China, according to Xinhua news agency.
Heinz officials apologized for the situation this past Friday and said they had traced the problem to ingredients in a batch of degreased soybean cereals. The company was recalling products with batch numbers 20140413, 20140414, 20140508 and 20140509 as a preventative measure.
A company spokeswoman reportedly said the raw ingredient used turned out to “exceed the allowable limit for lead,” but no further details were available.
“Extensive testing confirmed that no other Heinz Baby Food varieties are affected,” the statement added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which tests foods commonly consumed by children for lead contamination, says that lead exposure in food has dramatically declined since the 1970s, but that concerns remain.
“Exposure to large amounts of lead, whether from food or any other source, can affect numerous body systems including the central nervous system, the kidneys and the immune system. In children, chronic exposure to lead, even at low levels, is associated with impaired cognitive function, including reduced IQ, behavior difficulties and other problems,” the agency states.
This is just the latest in a series of food safety-related problems involving U.S.-based companies in China. A recent TV report showing workers at a U.S.-owned meat supplier processing expired product for use at Chinese fast-food restaurants led to cancelled contracts by McDonald’s and Yum! Brands, and, in 2008, six infants died and more than 300,000 were sickened by melamine found in milk powder.© Food Safety News