FDA Investigates Dangerous Lead Contamination

(RepublicanNews.org) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes lead-contaminated applesauce that sickened at least 60 American children and up to 100 or more, may have been intentional.

Officials with the FDA began conducting their investigation in Ecuador at a company called Austrofoods, but quickly suspected that it might have been a case of what the FDA calls “economically motivated alteration.”

That means someone involved in the supply chain or processing of the apple sauce may have substituted a cheaper ingredient in order to boost profits. Also known as “food fraud,” it’s when someone intentionally uses a cheap and potentially dangerous ingredient. One example provided by the FDA is when someone in the supply chain uses a lead-based food dye to color a food, instead of an approved, food-safe dye, which tends to be more expensive.

The FDA does not know for sure who is responsible for adding lead to applesauce packets, but the investigation is ongoing. Unless an ingredient is being imported into the U.S., the FDA has no jurisdiction to inspect for safety. That means food products that are processed overseas are susceptible to shortcuts that could mean contaminated food.

The lead-tainted apple sauce made its way into three different brands sold in the United States: Weis, WanaBana, and Schnucks. All three brands source their apple sauce from the same supplier in Ecuador. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods Jim Jones says his agency will track down every lead to discover at what point the lead was added to the supply chain. He believes the perpetrator may have assumed the intentional contamination could not be traced back to the source.

Lead is a dangerous toxin, and there’s no safe level of human consumption. The CDC recommends throwing away all applesauce packets from the affected brands. There is no evidence that any other apple sauce brands have been tainted with lead at this time.

If you believe you have ingested lead-contaminated foods, contact your primary care physician or the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

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