Title: Lead Contamination in WanaBana Cinnamon Applesauce Linked to Ecuadorian Processor
In a startling revelation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has disclosed that the lead-contaminated WanaBana cinnamon applesauce pouches, which have been causing lead poisonings throughout the United States, were possibly contaminated by a single cinnamon processor in Ecuador. This recent information has shed light on the potential source of the contamination.
According to Ecuadorian officials, Carlos Aguilera, a cinnamon processor, has been identified as the “likely source of contamination.” Aguilera sourced his cinnamon from Sri Lanka, and it was reported that the cinnamon sticks were free from lead contamination before being processed.
Aguilera is part of the supply chain for the WanaBana cinnamon applesauce, which is manufactured at Austrofoods, a facility located in Ecuador. Austrofoods acquires their cinnamon from another Ecuadorian supplier called Negasmart, and Negasmart, in turn, procures their cinnamon from Aguilera.
The investigation and legal proceedings in Ecuador to determine the ultimate responsibility for the contamination are still ongoing, leading to Aguilera’s business currently not operating. Denying the accusation, Aguilera claims that officials did not find lead contamination in products processed at his mills.
WanaBana, the company responsible for the recalled pouches, has refrained from commenting on the situation, leaving consumers and the media in suspense. NBC News has been unsuccessful in reaching Negasmart for a comment.
Since late last year, the FDA has been vigorously investigating lead contamination in WanaBana products, with particular emphasis on the cinnamon component, which is believed to be the primary source of contamination. Concern regarding the possibility of intentional contamination has also been raised.
As of February 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received 413 reports of elevated blood lead levels linked to the WanaBana cinnamon applesauce pouches across 43 states. This alarming figure emphasizes the urgency of the situation and the need for a swift resolution.
The FDA’s authority over foreign ingredient suppliers who do not directly ship products to the U.S. is limited, preventing them from taking direct action against Negasmart or Aguilera. Consequently, the responsibility lies with Austrofoods, a company that ultimately ships the products to the U.S.
Collaboration between the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection is underway to screen for any products from Negasmart or cinnamon being imported from Ecuador. Investigations have confirmed that Negasmart does not directly ship its products to the U.S.
As the investigation unfolds and Ecuadorian authorities continue their legal proceedings, the FDA is working diligently to protect consumers from the lead-contaminated WanaBana products. The results of these efforts will determine the future course of action to prevent further lead poisonings and safeguard public health.
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