The FDA suggests that the presence of lead in applesauce may be due to economic reasons.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating a facility in Ecuador and working closely with authorities to conduct inspections on the cinnamon supplier.

Last Friday, the FDA announced that it suspects an increase in lead levels in cinnamon applesauce, which has resulted in numerous cases of children being poisoned. The agency believes that this could be due to intentional additives containing lead in the cinnamon, prompting them to inspect a food facility in Ecuador.

Over 60 incidents have been reported, involving children who experienced negative effects after consuming applesauce and apple puree pouches from WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis brands. Consequently, these products have been recalled.

The affected cases span across more than 20 states.

The FDA’s investigation is focusing on the Austrofoods facility in Ecuador. They are exploring the possibility that the cinnamon contamination was deliberate, possibly attributed to additives containing lead being used to enhance flavor or increase commercial viability.

Due to the lack of federal requirements for lead testing in domestically produced or imported food within the United States, the FDA is collaborating with Ecuadorian authorities to inspect the cinnamon supplier, Negasmart, which supplies cinnamon to Austrofoods. They will also investigate if the contaminated cinnamon was used in other exported items destined for the US.

Jim Jones, the FDA’s Director of the Food Division, suggested in an interview with Politico that the lead contamination seems to be an intentional act.

As of December 8th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with state and local health departments, have received reports of 46 confirmed cases, 68 probable cases, and 11 suspected cases across 22 different states.

In response to these reports, the FDA has requested more authority from Congress to address this issue. Their proposed legislative changes for 2024 include the power to establish binding contamination limits on food. This highlights the limited tools currently available to the FDA in reducing exposure to toxic elements in the food supply.

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