Applesauce Pouches Lead Poisoning Lawsuit
The cinnamon applesauce pouches from WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis were nationally recalled after extremely high lead levels were discovered, resulting in more than 100 cases of lead poisoning in children.
If your child has suffered from health complications due to the consumption of applesauce pouches, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Farah & Farah for a free consultation regarding your case. We charge no fees for representation; instead, we get paid only if you win. Our experienced personal injury attorneys specialize in serving those who may have been affected.
Applesauce Pouches and Lead Poisoning Concerns
On December 8, 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 46 confirmed cases, 68 probable cases, and 11 suspected cases, for a total of 125 cases related to lead poisoning caused by the consumption of applesauce pouches. According to the FDA, cases have been reported in 27 states. See below:
Which Applesauce Pouch Brands Were Affected?
Each lead poisoning contamination case is related to applesauce pouches distributed by one of three brands:
The cases were reported between mid-October and December 2023. All of the cases involve children six years old and younger.
Where Were the Contaminated Applesauce Pouches Sold?
The contaminated applesauce pouches were sold at the following grocery stores:
Applesauce Pouch National Recall
According to the FDA, WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weiss issued a voluntary recall of their Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée pouches. There is a possibility that this product may still be available at Dollar Tree stores across the states. The FDA recommends not selling, purchasing, or consuming this product.
WanaBana Applesauce Pouch Recall
WanaBana publicly announced their national recall on October 30, 2023. The company recalled its product, “WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree.” This product was sold through online and retail stores nationwide. They were produced in 3-pack pouches of 2.5 oz.
Schnucks Applesauce Pouch Recall
The Schnucks national recall took place on November 3, 2023. The supermarket chain located in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa recalled its select Schnucks-brand applesauce pouches sold across their stores. Specifically:
Weis Applesauce Pouch Recall
Weis issued their national recall on November 6, 2023. The supermarket chain located in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey recalled their product, “Weis Quality Cinnamon Apple Sauce Pouches (20 CT) UPC 41497216123”. The product was sold in their grocery stores.
Source of Lead Poisoning in Applesauce Pouches
The FDA believes that cinnamon is the cause of the lead contamination in the applesauce pouches. They suggest that the company Negasmart supplied the cinnamon to an Ecuadorian facility called Austrofoods, which produced the applesauce pouches sold by the brands WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis. The FDA worked with Ecuadorian authorities to confirm this information.
What Is the FDA’s Investigation Process?
On December 18, 2023, the FDA shared that they had completed their inspection of the Austrofoods facility in Ecuador; however, they will continue investigating the lead levels in the recalled applesauce pouches. The inspection included collecting samples of cinnamon from Negasmart that were supplied to Austrofoods. The FDA relies on Ecuadorian officials to support the continuing investigation into Negasmart.
How Much Lead Was Found in the Cinnamon?
The results of the FDA inspection confirmed that the cinnamon used for the applesauce pouches for brands WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis contained extremely high levels of lead contamination, 5110 parts per million (ppm) and 2270 ppm. The FDA referenced Codex Alimentarius, which states that lead levels for bark spices, including cinnamon, in 2024 should be at a maximum level of 2.5 ppm.
What Is Considered High Amounts of Lead?
No known amount of lead is safe for children or adults. The CDC currently uses a blood level reference value (BLRV) set at 3.5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels. Children whose blood lead levels equal or surpass the BLRV are within 2.5% of U.S. children with the highest blood lead levels.
How Was the Cinnamon Contaminated With Lead?
Jim Jones, an official from the US Food and Drug Administration, suggested to Politico that the lead contamination in the applesauce pouches, which caused lead poisoning in numerous young children, might have been a deliberate act. The FDA is actively exploring various possibilities to understand the contamination of the pouches and has yet to reach definitive conclusions regarding the method, purpose, or responsible party for introducing lead.
How Were the Applesauce Manufacturers Negligent?
The FDA currently leans towards the lead contamination being an economically motivated adulteration. This means the ingredients might have been altered to make the products seem more valuable. This practice typically aims to create a cheaper product that can be sold at a higher price.
The FDA possesses restricted jurisdiction over international ingredient suppliers who do not directly deliver products to the U.S. This is due to additional manufacturing or processing of their food before export. Consequently, the FDA cannot directly intervene with Negasmart. However, they are maintaining close collaboration with Ecuadorian authorities, who are conducting their own dynamic inquiries into the origin of the contamination. The FDA is actively evaluating the information received and utilizing all available resources to enhance public health protection.
Lead Poisoning and Health Risks in Children
Lead is toxic (poisonous), and the consumption of this heavy metal is not safe for people of any age. However, children six years old and younger are at a greater risk for adverse effects. Exposure to lead may not cause visible side effects in children, but the CDC has confirmed that it can cause long-term health issues.
When children are exposed to lead, they can experience adverse effects including but not limited to:
According to the CDC, this can cause lower IQ, a decreased ability to pay attention, and underperformance in school.
Impact of Lead Poisoning Based on a Child’s Age
The impact of lead poisoning can vary based on a child’s age. The effects can depend on the level and duration of lead exposure. Below is a general overview:
Damage to the Brain and Nervous System
Lead poisoning in children can harm the brain and nervous system by interfering with the normal development and function of neurons. Lead mimics essential minerals like calcium and can be absorbed by the body, particularly in growing bones and developing brain tissues. This interference can permanently damage cognitive and nervous system function, especially for children six and younger.
Childhood lead exposure can additionally harm the regions of the brain that are responsible for:
Slowed Growth and Development
Lead poisoning in children can delay growth and development. The delay can occur due to interference with nutrient absorption, lead storage in bones, reduced appetite, and weight loss. Additional effects of lead poisoning on growth and development in children include:
Learning and Behavioral Problems
When lead crosses the blood-brain barrier, it can cause learning and behavioral problems. The exposure can be detrimental even at extremely low levels for children of all ages and can persist when the children are older. Common learning and behavioral problems include:
Hearing and Speech Problems
When children have lead in their bloodstream, it can affect how they learn and process language. It can also affect a child’s hearing, influencing their language processing ability. Ways in which lead poisoning affects hearing and speech in children include:
Criminal Activity Linked to Lead Poisoning in Children
Loyola University Chicago conducted a study on childhood lead poisoning, revealing a correlation between lead exposure and an increased likelihood of engaging in criminal activities both in childhood and adulthood. Lead exposure has the potential to induce aggression and contribute to children engaging in illegal activities. In addition, the study found that childhood lead exposure has been associated with a higher incidence of adult arrests, particularly for violent crimes.
Signs and Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Children
Lead poisoning symptoms in children are not always easy to recognize as poisoned children do not always look or act sick. In fact, some children may appear to be healthy. It is common to confuse children with lead poisoning for other illnesses, such as an upset stomach or the flu, due to the vagueness of the symptoms. The only way to diagnose children is with a blood test.
Some of the most common symptoms of lead poisoning in children are:
In more severe cases, children with very high levels of lead can experience confusion, seizures, coma, or death.
How Is Lead Poisoning Diagnosed in Children?
Children need a blood test to be tested positive for lead poisoning. A small blood sample is extracted from a finger/heel prick (capillary test) or the child’s vein (venous blood draw). Lead levels in the blood are measured in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
There is no safe level of lead in the blood. However, to be considered in the CDC’s case count, a blood test must show a lead level of 3.5 mcg/dL or higher measured within three months after consuming a recalled WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis brand fruit purée product after November 2022.
North Carolina Applesauce Pouch Lawsuit
A lawsuit was filed on October 31, 2023, against WanaBana by a family of a 1-year-old girl in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Their daughter suffered from severe lead poisoning caused by WanaBana Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches. During a routine checkup, it was discovered that the daughter had a lead concentration of 20 mcg/dL in her bloodstream, surpassing the normal level, which should be less than 3.5 mcg/dL. The child consumed numerous WanaBana Cinnamon Applesauce Pouches prior to the diagnosis of lead poisoning. The family submitted a proposed class-action lawsuit in North Carolina a few days following the product recall.
Do I Qualify for an Applesauce Pouch Lead Poisoning Lawsuit?
If your child has tested for lead poisoning after consuming an applesauce pouch sold by WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weiss, contact us for a free consultation. We will review your case and see if you are eligible. If you are, we will represent you against these brands who have caused your child harm. You will not be asked to pay until we win your case.
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