Lead-contaminated WanaBana applesauce impacting children, families in Oregon

Posted on November 17, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – State and local health officials have identified multiple children in Oregon with elevated blood lead levels after they ate certain pouches of applesauce called WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée.

The elevated blood lead reports follow a safety and recall alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late October warning parents and caregivers against buying or feeding the product to young children.

As of Nov. 15, local public health investigators have found a total of six cases of elevated blood lead levels in children who ate WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée. The children live in Lake, Lincoln, Multnomah and Washington counties. Some of the families learned about the FDA alert through local news and online media reports that prompted parents and caregivers to report possible exposure to health care providers.

WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée is distributed nationwide through retailers including Dollar Tree, Amazon and other online stores. Additionally, since the FDA alert Oct. 28, two other brands of applesauce products sold at Schnucks and Weis Markets have become subject to the recall, though they are not available in Oregon.

A collaborative investigation by state and local partners, FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response & Evaluation (CORE) Network, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is ongoing.

While WanaBana has agreed to voluntarily recall all WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée pouches regardless of their expiration dates, some people may have bought the product before the recall announcement. Families should check their homes and throw away any pouches they find.

“While lead is toxic for all people regardless of age, small children are especially at risk because they’re still growing and developing,” said Ryan Barker, Oregon Health Authority’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program coordinator. “Continued exposure over time can permanently damage their central nervous system, which may result in long-term health problems, such as learning disorders, impaired speech and brain damage.”

Signs of lead poisoning are not always easy to see and can be mistaken for other illnesses. Without a blood test, lead poisoning may go undiagnosed, especially since affected children often don’t look or act sick.

Possible signs of lead exposure and symptoms in children include:

  • Tiredness or loss of energy.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Irritability or crankiness.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Constipation.
  • Aches or pains in stomach.

Parents and caregivers concerned about a child’s exposure to WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée should contact their health care provider to request a blood test.

More information on blood testing and lead can be found on the following pages:

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