Lead Poisoning Outbreak Caused by Contaminated Apple Cinnamon

Lead Poisoning Outbreak

Lead Poisoning Outbreak was recently reported in the US. The FDA recalled all the products that contained high amounts of lead.

Apple cinnamon pouches produced by WanaBana contained huge amounts of lead resulting in lead toxicity in 287 people.

Lead Poisoning Outbreak: Key points

  • Exposure to lead can be fatal, and it might cause health concerns even at low concentrations. This can lead to poisoning, which can be diagnosed through blood tests.
  • A huge amount of apple cinnamon pouches were recalled after 287 people were found sick across 37 states. The pouches were produced by WanaBana.
  • The CDC is currently investigating the cases that are linked to lead-containing apple cinnamon pouches.
  • Cases are labeled as “suspect,” “probable,” or “confirmed based on serum lead levels and follow-up assessments.
  • The outbreak has affected people in multiple states, from Alabama to Washington, and this widespread impact shows the intensity of the current issue.

apple cinnamon



Why is Lead Poisoning Serious?

Lead poisoning poses a serious threat, particularly to children, who can be exposed through ingestion or inhalation of lead.

The main culprits are lead-based paints, polluted water, and, as evident in a recent case, certain food products like the recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches.

Wana Bana, Weis, and Schnucks, the companies that produce cinnamon applesauce pouches, voluntarily removed their products from the market on November 9, 2023, and recalled all of their products from various states following the discovery of elevated lead levels.

In addition, the FDA is looking into 22 reported illnesses linked to these products. The initial findings revealed dangerously high levels of lead, which could cause acute toxicity.

The source of the lead contamination, which could be cinnamon, is being investigated. In addition to the FDA’s continuous efforts to remove toxic products from the market, parents are urged not to purchase or give these products to their children.

Moreover, the FDA has not been notified of any new complaints or adverse event reports concerning the recalled products as of January 2, 2024.

Nonetheless, the confirmed complainants range in age from zero to 53 years old, with a median age of one year [ref].

CDC also investigating their level because of 287 cases reported from 37 states by December 29, 2023[ref].

Because the FDA and the CDC use different data sources, the counts they report may differ.

The numbers from the two agencies may include impacted individuals, so adding them together is not recommended.  The FDA will continue to update the advisory as new information becomes available.


Leading Causes of Lead Poisoning:

Lead poisoning poses a significant health risk, particularly to children, and originates from various sources.

A major contributor is lead-based paint, commonly found in homes constructed before 1978.

Deteriorating paint generates lead dust and chips, easily consumed by children during everyday activities.

Contaminated water is another concern, with lead leaching from rusty pipes or plumbing fixtures, especially in homes with outdated infrastructure.

Imported goods, such as toys and cosmetics, may contain lead-based materials, putting children at risk when these items are placed in their mouths.

Certain occupations, such as construction or battery manufacturing, pose a risk of occupational lead exposure, with workers unintentionally bringing lead dust home.

Soil contamination near industries or areas with a history of using leaded gasoline is another source, as children playing in such soil may inhale or ingest lead particles.

Traditional ceramics and pottery, especially those with lead glazes, can also contribute to lead exposure.

Prevention involves identifying and eliminating these sources, regular lead level testing, and implementing safety measures, especially in environments where children are present. 

apple cinnamon lead poisoning



Which products have been recalled in the past due to lead poisoning?

A recall for several brands of curry powder products, including Corrado, Orlando Imports, Nouri’s Syrian Bakery, Mediterranean Specialty Foods, and Butera Fruit Market, has been issued by Sirob Imports, Inc. because of elevated lead levels.

The curry powder was distributed in Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. A customer complaint about a child’s elevated blood lead levels prompted FDA sampling, which resulted in high lead levels and the start of the recall.

Consumers are instructed not to consume the product and can return it for a full refund. There have been no illnesses reported thus far [ref].

Aroma Imports Inc. recalled Nabelsi brand Thyme due to potential lead contamination. The FDA discovered elevated lead levels (422 PPM) in the product.

Consuming this thyme may exceed daily lead limits, posing health risks, especially for children and pregnant women.

The recalled packages (450 g and 4.5 kg) were distributed in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, and Virginia between November 7, 2016, and February 22, 2017.

Moreover, two cases of high blood lead levels associated with this thyme have been reported [ref].



Lead poisoning is a serious threat, as evidenced by recent recalls of apple cinnamon pouches, curry powder, and thyme.

The impact on 287 people in 37 states emphasizes the importance of managing lead contamination, particularly in products consumed by children.

The primary sources, such as lead-based paints and contaminated water, stress the importance of precautionary measures.

Recalls and FDA actions emphasize the ongoing battle against lead exposure, highlighting the importance of public awareness and regulatory attention.

The events underline how crucial it is to have strict policies and ongoing management to shield people, especially kids, from the grave health effects of lead poisoning.


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Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

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