Public health officials in New York confirmed Tuesday that a case of lead poisoning was tied to the nationwide recall of applesauce products.
Investigators with the Monroe County Department of Public Health linked the case to WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree purchased at a local Dollar Tree store.
Investigators say the consumer purchased the product before WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis-brand apple cinnamon pouches — manufactured by Ecuador-based Austrofood — were recalled in November for elevated lead levels, and retailers were directed to remove affected products from store shelves.
The recall was voluntarily initiated after reports that children were falling ill with high lead concentrations.
As a result of the confirmed case, the Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Michael Mendoza, is imploring Monroe County residents check their homes for these products, and to empty any remaining applesauce into the trash before disposing of the packaging.
"There is no safe level of lead in children, and most children will not have immediate symptoms of lead poisoning," the agency said, adding that it has already alerted local healthcare providers to screen for cases of elevated blood lead levels related to children who have ingested products involved in the recall.
As of Dec. 5, the FDA received 64 reports of illnesses possibly linked to the recalled products. The confirmed complainants, or people who have an adverse event, are under 6 years of age, according to the FDA.
Meanwhile, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received reports for at least 52 cases across 13 states as of Dec. 1.
Officials warned that both agencies have different data sources, so the counts reported by each agency might differ.
Wanabana believes that the cinnamon is the source of the elevated lead levels in the recalled products, the FDA said.
The cinnamon used to manufacture the recalled products was supplied by Negocios Asociados Mayoristas S.A., operating as Negasmart, a third-party distribution company located in Ecuador, the FDA said, citing a notice from Wanabana USA and Austrofoods.
"The FDA is continuing to work with Ecuadorian authorities to investigate the source of the contamination and to determine if the cinnamon in the recalled products was used in other products or distributed as a raw ingredient to other countries," according to the FDA's notice.
The agency has confirmed that Negasmart does not import cinnamon directly into the U.S.
The FDA also issued an inspection at the Austrofoods facility located in Ecuador to try and identify the source of elevated lead levels in cinnamon apple pouches.