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CDC and FDA Alert: Do not eat Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouches & Cinnamon Apple Sauce

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the FDA(Food and Drug Administration), and state and local partners are investigating a link between blood lead levels (BLLs) ≥3.5 µg/dL in children consuming certain cinnamon-containing apple purée and applesauce products. FDA tested these products and found high levels of chromium and lead.

Consumers should be aware of these elevated levels of chromium and lead found in the cinnamon applesauce pouches and the potential for adverse health effects.

According to FDA, Chromium is a naturally occurring element with trace levels normally found in the diet. The most common forms of chromium found in chromium compounds are trivalent chromium [chromium (III)] and hexavalent chromium [chromium (VI)]. Chromium (III) is considered an essential nutrient and can be found in a normal diet and some dietary supplements. Chronic, prolonged exposure to chromium (VI) in occupational settings through inhalation and skin exposure has also been associated with chronic lung disease and ulceration of the skin and mucous membranes. Chromium (VI) is a known carcinogen. The exact form of chromium in the recalled applesauce products is unclear. However, lead chromate has previously been reported as a contaminant in spices and foods.

There is limited information about the health effects of consuming food contaminated with chromium compounds such as lead chromate. The main health problems seen in laboratory animals following ingestion of chromium (VI) compounds are irritation ulcers (in the stomach and small intestine) and anemia.

However, the health effects of eating food contaminated with chromium (VI), in the form of lead chromate, are not well understood. Chromium (VI) compounds may be converted to chromium (III) in acidic environments. It is difficult to predict the amount of chromium (VI) and chromium (III) absorbed from ingestion of contaminated food.

While the health effects of chromium are difficult to predict in this scenario, we know there is no safe level of lead. CDC recommends discarding all affected products and not eating any of them. Anyone who may have eaten the affected products should talk with their healthcare provider.

FDA recommends that people not eat Cinnamon-containing apple puree or applesauce products included in the FDA recall announcement. If you ate these products then you should talk to your health provider and take blood tests. If you take blood tests related to this cause, the cost will be covered by Medicare.

More information at the FDA website, Investigation of Elevated Lead Levels: Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches (November 2023) | FDA.

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