“No safe level of lead in children’s blood has been identified. CDC does not use the term “elevated blood lead levels” when recommending what actions to take based on a child’s blood lead level (BLL).” CDC
FDA’s onsite inspection of the Austrofoods facility in Ecuador has ended. However, the FDA investigation of the elevated lead levels in recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches continues. During the inspection, investigators collected samples of cinnamon supplied by Negasmart to Austrofoods. These samples have undergone analysis and results show extremely high levels of lead contamination, 5110 parts per million (ppm) and 2270 ppm. For context, the international standard-setting body, Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex)External Link Disclaimer is considering adopting a maximum level of 2.5 ppm for lead in bark spices, including cinnamon, in 2024.
The FDA has tested multiple products and, based on the current evidence, there are no further products being added to the recall at this time. Additionally, FDA and state partners have tested at least 136 samples of non-cinnamon containing products and all have been negative for elevated lead levels. Of those, 136 non-cinnamon containing samples, eleven are the Smoothie Mango Passionfruit Banana flavor of WanaBana purees, three of these samples are of the same lot that the Agencia Nacional de Regulación, Control y Vigilancia Sanitaria (ARCSA) originally reported as positive for lead, and FDA results were negative for elevated lead for all samples. In addition, FDA collected samples of WanaBana Organic Mango Puree at import and sample results are negative for elevated levels of lead.
At this time, FDA is still relying on officials in Ecuador to support the investigation into Negasmart. To date, FDA has confirmed that Negasmart does not ship product directly to the U.S. and that, of Negasmart’s direct customers, only Austrofoods ships product to the U.S.
Further, Ecuadorian officials from ARCSA report that Negasmart does not ship product outside Ecuador. ARCSA also reports that in their testing thus far, raw/unprocessed cinnamon from all cinnamon importers in Ecuador do not appear to be contaminated with lead, whereas the ground or powdered cinnamon from Negasmart is contaminated. The Ecuadorian processor used by Negasmart is not currently operating.
While our information at this time indicates that in the U.S. the contaminated cinnamon is limited to only the applesauce products that have already been recalled, the FDA is still investigating whether the cinnamon in the recalled products was used in other products exported to the U.S. To date, increased screening for imported cinnamon from certain countries remains in place and FDA has no indication that this issue extends beyond these recalled products.
The FDA has limited authority over foreign ingredient suppliers who do not directly ship product to the U.S. This is because their food undergoes further manufacturing/processing prior to export. Thus, the FDA cannot take direct action with Negasmart. However, we are continuing to work closely with Ecuadorian officials, as they are conducting their own rapidly evolving investigations into the source of contamination. FDA is actively assessing information received, using all available resources to further protect public health.
In addition to coordinating with Ecuadorian officials, FDA also is continuing to take steps to make other countries aware of the ongoing investigation into elevated lead levels in cinnamon applesauce pouches manufactured by Austrofoods. As part of this effort, FDA sends updates of the FDA public health advisory to other countries through the World Health Organization (WHO) International Food Safety Authority Network (INFOSAN), which includes more than 200 partner countries.
Finally, we understand there is heightened awareness and interest in this incident, especially for families with small children. For that reason, in addition to continuing to provide timely updates on our investigation, FDA is also providing a timeline detailing the early stages of our investigation in an effort to be as transparent and forthcoming with information as possible.
You can find previous updates not captured by the initial timeline below in the Previous Updates section. FDA will update the advisory as information becomes available.