WASHINGTON – Yet another children’s food has been found to be contaminated with dangerous levels of lead. Federal health officials are warning that WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches may contain elevated levels of the toxic heavy metal.
WanaBana is voluntarily recalling all of the fruit puree pouches – which are sold nationally through retailers including Amazon and Dollar Tree – after four children in North Carolina were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood after consuming the product.
Health officials in the state analyzed multiple samples of the puree and detected “extremely high concentrations of lead” – levels that “could result in acute toxicity,” according to a review of the findings by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Lead is a serious neurotoxin that can permanently affect children’s development, and there is no safe level of exposure according to the World Health Organization,” said Susan Little, the Environmental Working Group’s senior advocate for California government affairs. “Even small amounts of lead can cause irreversible damage to a child’s intelligence, and cause behavior and learning problems.”
Lead is toxic to people of all ages, but because of their developing bodies, babies and children face the highest health risks from lead exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. It is also a carcinogen.
“These new results further illustrate the need for immediate action to protect children’s health,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president of government affairs.
“Parents should not have to worry if the food they’re feeding their kids is full of toxic heavy metals. We know that even at low levels, lead especially can cause serious and often irreversible damage to babies’ brains,” he said.
Lead exposure isn’t a one-time event – it adds up. Even in small doses, this neurotoxin builds up in children’s bodies over time.
Elevated lead levels in children can be caused by exposure to lead in paint and lead contamination in tap water, in addition to exposure through contaminated food.
A 2021 study estimated that more than half of the children under age 6 in every state and the District of Columbia had detectable levels of lead in their blood.
In January, the FDA announced new standards for reducing toxic metals in baby and children’s food, including lead.
“The FDA’s new action levels are an important step towards reducing children’s exposure to lead and other toxic metals,” said Faber.
“But manufacturers must continue to do better. They should eliminate lead-containing surfaces, paints and machinery from manufacturing facilities; conduct rigorous and regular tests for heavy metals; make their results public; and take immediate action when limits are exceeded,” he added.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.