CBS NEWS – The Food and Drug Administration has begun screening incoming shipments of cinnamon from multiple countries, the agency announced this week, as reported illnesses have climbed to 34 in the investigation of lead poisonings linked to pouches of cinnamon-flavored applesauce.
The FDA has ramped up its investigation in recent weeks, after authorities in North Carolina first warned of the possible link to applesauce when investigating cases of lead poisonings in the state.
Cases across at least 22 states have now been linked to the pouches, which were sold nationwide under the now-recalled brands of WanaBana, Weis and Schnucks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned testing laboratories nationwide this week to brace for a potential influx of lead testing requests, as cases reported linked to recalled applesauce pouches have swelled.
The FDA said its “leading hypothesis” now blames the toxic lead levels on cinnamon used to produce the applesauce.
“This is a very high priority for us and we are investigating aggressively.” Jim Jones, FDA deputy commissioner for human foods
Other fruit puree products made by the recalled brands did not have high levels of lead and have not been recalled.
Samples collected from a WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree product from Dollar Tree tested positive for lead levels “more than 200 times greater” than proposed limits the FDA has set for products intended for babies and young children, the agency said.
On-site inspections are now ongoing, according to an FDA table, alongside efforts to trace back the ingredients behind the poisonings.
Schnuck Markets had also previously blamed “cinnamon raw material” supplied by Ecuador-based Austrofood, the parent company of WanaBana, for the recall …