The CDC is reporting that more than 380 children are now involved in an outbreak of lead poisoning traced to pouches of cinnamon applesauce.

The outbreak was first announced in October 2023 after the Food and Drug Administration received information in September from North Carolina officials about children with elevated levels of lead in their blood. Traceback work showed a common source — cinnamon applesauce sold in pouches.

The implicated applesauce was made in Ecuador by Austrofoods. The cinnamon in the applesauce pouches was supplied by Negasmart to Austrofoods. Officials found the lead in the cinnamon was 2,000 times the amount considered safe. Elevated levels of chromium was also found in the product.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 97 confirmed cases, 253 probable cases, and 35 suspected cases for a total of 385 cases from 42 different states.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reporting that it is investigating 90 cases with the age range for the patients from less than one to 53 years old with the median age being 1 year old. There could be some overlap so the CDC and FDA numbers should not be added together.

Three brands of cinnamon applesauce pouches have been recalled. They are Wanabana, Schnucks and Weis. The pouches were sold individually nationwide. Some of the Schnucks pouches were sold in variety packs.

The FDA and CDC are recommending that parents not use the applesauce and through it away or return it to the place of purchase. The applesauce has a very long shelf life, so officials are urging the public to check their homes for the recalled products.

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.

About chromium exposure
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.