WASHINGTON — More children have apparently been sickened by recently recalled applesauce packets due to dangerous lead contamination, the Food and Drug Administration said.
The agency received 52 reports of elevated lead levels in children who may have consumed these products, an increase from 34 cases reported last week. The reports span 22 states and involve children ages 1 to 4, according to the FDA’s online survey update.
The pouches were marketed to parents and children under three brands: WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree and Schnucks and Weis Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches. They were sold by national grocery chains, including Dollar Tree, and online retailers like Amazon.
The FDA said it is still working with Dollar Tree to remove the recalled products from shelves in several states.
“This product should not be available for sale and consumers should not purchase or consume this product,” the agency said.
Parents should dispose of the pouches by emptying their contents into the trash and throwing away the packaging, the agency said.
The FDA said Wednesday it was investigating the source of the contamination in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency previously said cinnamon imported from an Ecuadorian manufacturer was the “likely source” of the lead contamination.
Exposure to lead can cause serious learning and behavioral problems. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, heavy metals like lead can enter food products from soil, air, water or industrial processes.
There is no safe level of lead exposure, but the CDC uses a marker of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with higher levels than most. The blood lead levels of the affected children varied between 4 and 29 micrograms per deciliter.