Chromium and Lead in Applesauce has impacted over 400 in the US

As of January 30, 2024, the FDA has reported a total Complaint/Adverse Event Report: 90. Report Date Ranges: October 17, 2023 – January 16, 2024
States with Complaint/Report: AL (1), AR (1), AZ (1), CA (1), CT (1), FL (1), GA (2), IA (1), IL (5), IN (1), KY (3), LA (4), MA (3), MD (7), MI (8), MO (3), NC (6), NE (2), NH (1), NJ (1), NM (1), NY (8), OH (3), OK (1), PA (2), SC (2), TN (3), TX (3), VA (2), WA (4), WI (2), WV (3), Unknown (3).

CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health is conducting case finding efforts in collaboration with state and local health departments. CDC’s case definition for state partners includes a blood lead level of 3.5 µg/dL or higher measured within 3 months after consuming a recalled WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis brand fruit puree product after November 2022. 

As of January 26, CDC has received reports of 98 confirmed cases, 269 probable cases, and 37 suspected cases for a total of 404 cases from 43 different states through their reporting structure. Data updated on January 26, 2024.CDC has received the following reports from state and local health departments:

            •          Total Cases: 404

            ◦           Confirmed Cases: 98

            ◦           Probable Cases: 269

            ◦           Suspect Cases: 37

            •          States: (43 total) AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

Cases are reported to the CDC through state health departments. State health departments receive reports of potential cases from various sources, and then follow up to determine whether the case definition is met. In order to be considered in CDC’s case count, the person must have had a blood lead level of 3.5 ug/dL or higher measured within 3 months after consuming a recalled WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis brand fruit purée product after November 2022.  Based on the amount of information available, CDC asks states to further classify cases as “suspect”, “probable”, and “confirmed”. As the investigation progresses, cases might be assigned to different case categories.

Lead is toxic to humans and can affect people of any age or health status. Protecting children from exposure to lead is particularly important because they are more susceptible to lead toxicity. Most children have no obvious immediate symptoms. Parents and caretakers should consult a healthcare provider if you suspect a child may have been exposed to lead. Short term exposure to lead could result in the following symptoms: headache; abdominal pain/colic; vomiting; anemia. Longer term exposure could result in the following additional symptoms: irritability; lethargy; fatigue; muscle aches or muscle prickling/burning; constipation; difficulty concentrating/muscular weakness; tremor; weight loss.

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 in 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 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 health effects from 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 and 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 that 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.