In addition to extremely high levels of lead, the FDA has found elevated levels of chromium in cinnamon applesauce products marketed for children.

The applesauce in question was manufactured by the Ecuadoran company Austrofoods and marked in the United States under the brands Wanabana, Schnucks and Weis. All of the implicated cinnamon applesauce, which was sold in pouches, has been recalled, but there have been some reports of the Wanabana brand still being on shelves at Dollar Tree stores.

The Food and Drug Administration found lead levels as much as 2,000 times the proposed safe levels when it tested the implicated cinnamon applesauce. The agency and Ecuadoran officials have found that the cinnamon in the applesauce is the source of the lead.

Additional testing by the FDA has found excessive chromium levels in samples of the cinnamon applesauce and the cinnamon used to make it. The level of chromium detected in the samples of cinnamon yielded 1201 and 531 parts per million (ppm). 

“People who ate 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,” according to an update from the FDA.

“Chromium is a naturally occurring element. 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)).”

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, renal and hepatic dysfunction.

In addition to testing for chromium the FDA tested samples of the implicated applesauce for and cadmium, but those elements were not detected above trace levels in the cinnamon collected from the Austrofoods facility in Ecuador or in the recalled product. 

As of Jan. 2 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 287 patients from 34 states with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

The Food and Drug Administration has received reports of 82 children with lead poisoning as of Dec. 26. The agencies use different reporting methods so their numbers may overlap in some cases and should therefore not be added together for a total.

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.