DHEC Investigating Cases of Lead Exposure from Cinnamon Applesauce Pouch Products

January 8, 2024

As part of an ongoing investigation related to a nationwide recall of cinnamon applesauce pouches mostly eaten by children, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has had products that contained high levels of lead removed from store shelves throughout the state.

DHEC also identified lead in a sample of applesauce associated with a child who had a high level of lead.

“The quick response by staff and our cooperation with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have helped protect South Carolinians from this particular lead source,” said Sandra Craig, Food and Lead Risk Assessments Division Director. “If you are concerned about a potential lead exposure, please discuss the matter with your health care provider to see if a blood lead test is right for you or your family member. Young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers may be most at risk.”

The agency began its investigation in November 2023 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recall for several brands of cinnamon applesauce pouch products intended for children’s use, including:

  • WanaBana brand apple cinnamon fruit purée pouches (sold nationally)
  • Schnucks brand cinnamon applesauce pouches (sold in Midwest states)
  • Weis brand cinnamon applesauce pouches (sold in Mid-Atlantic states)

In November, DHEC’s Rapid Response Team notified more than 20,000 food retailers in South Carolina, alerting them to the recall and requesting that they remove these products from store shelves.

The WanaBana brand of cinnamon applesauce pouches were primarily distributed by the Dollar Tree store chain within South Carolina. DHEC Rapid Response Team members visited more than 130 Dollar Tree stores and located recalled pouches in at least 10 of these stores.

These pouches were removed promptly, and DHEC staff notified our partners at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) who regulate the wholesale distribution of food in South Carolina. SCDA staff visited the Dollar Tree distribution center and learned that 157 cases had been sent to stores after the recall, with each store receiving one to two cases of the WanaBana product. This distribution immediately was halted.

Since early November, several South Carolina children have had blood lead tests because their parents and health care providers were concerned about the WanaBana recall. DHEC has been working closely with health care providers and the families of three children who had consumed these products and had blood lead levels test above the reference value identified by the CDC. The reference value is used to identify children with blood lead levels higher than most children’s levels.

In one of the three cases, product testing completed Jan. 4 showed lead levels more than 1,100 times the Food and Drug Administration standard for food intended for children of 0.01 part per million. No product was available for testing in relation to the other two children.

Children with lead exposure often have no symptoms. Lead exposure only can be confirmed with a blood test.

Parents and caregivers of children who may have consumed recalled products should contact the child’s health care provider about getting a blood test for lead. Based on your child’s blood lead test results, health care providers can recommend follow-up actions and care.

Families and health care providers with questions may contact DHEC’s toll-free lead line at 866-466-5323(866-4NO-LEAD).

Health care providers wanting information on management of lead cases may reach out to the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units at www.pehsu.net.

More information on lead can be found on the DHEC website. You can also learn more about the applesauce recalls at these two links: FDA investigation or CDC investigation.