UPDATE: FDA says applesauce pouches containing lead also tainted with chromium

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches sold in Indiana and Michigan were found to also contain chromium, a naturally occurring element that can be toxic in high doses. 

"In FDA’s testing of the recalled products and the cinnamon collected from the Austrofoods facility, the agency has found chromium," the FDA stated. "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 FDA officials, chromium is an essential trace nutrient important to the diet. The reason for concern is that chromium exists predominantly in two forms, chromium (III) and chromium (VI), with chromium (VI) being more toxic.

"Due to limitations in available testing methods, FDA was not able to definitively determine the form of chromium in the cinnamon apple puree sample ... whether the chromium present is chromium (III) or chromium (VI))," the FDA stated. "The lead-to-chromium ratio in the cinnamon apple puree sample is consistent with that of lead chromate 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.

The FDA says information on the health effects of eating food contaminated with chromium (VI) are still limited, but that the chromium in lead chromate may be converted to chromium (III), the less toxic form, in the stomach due to the acidity of the applesauce and the stomach.

The original recall came back in October of last year, and in early December, the St. Joseph County Department of Health asked all Dollar Tree stores in the county to remove all WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches from their shelves and instructed residents to also throw out the pouches.

The brands impacted by the recall are WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis. WanaBana brand pouches are available nationally, online, and in Dollar Tree stores.

In response to this investigation, Wanabana has voluntarily recalled all of its Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches regardless of expiration date and lot code.

Schnucks is a local supermarket brand sold in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri.

"Consumers should contact their healthcare providers if they are experiencing any symptoms following the consumption of recalled product," FDA officials say. "Consumers should also inform their healthcare provider that they may have been exposed to high levels of chromium and lead if recalled products were consumed so their provider can monitor and potentially address any adverse health effects."

The products are manufactured in Ecuador. 

"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 in Ecuador or in the recalled product," FDA officials stated. 

Read the full recall report here.

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