– The FDA has traced tumorogenous lead in cinnamon used in US toddler snacks back to Ecuador.
– The supplier of the contaminated cinnamon was identified as Carlos Aguilera.
– Over 400 cases of poisoning have been reported across 43 US states.
– The cinnamon processor’s business has been reported to be ceased by Ecuadorian officials.
– The tainted cinnamon was used by Austrofoods in its apple cinnamon fruit pouches.
Potential Lead Contamination from Ecuador
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced this week that an Ecuadorian spice grinder, Carlos Aguilera, is the likely source of a batch of cocktail cinnamon which contained alarmingly high levels of toxic lead and chromium. This cinnamon reached the kitchens of American homes in the form of apple cinnamon fruit pouches specifically meant for toddlers.
Nationwide Concern Emerges
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 413 poisonings have been reported in 43 states to date. Rising concerns over the safety of imported food products have been sparked by this incident. The FDA is focussing on improving measures to guarantee the safety standards and quality of imported goods into the market.
Source of Contaminated Cinnamon Identified
Ecuadorian health authorities from the Agencia Nacional de Regulación, Control y Vigilancia Sanitaria (ARCSA) have pinpointed Aguilera as the processor of the cinnamon. The ARCSA have reported to the FDA that Aguilera’s business has shut down. The investigation found that Aguilera used raw cinnamon sticks sourced from Sri Lanka which tested negative for lead contamination upon arrival. Unfortunately, it was after their processing in Ecuador that high lead contamination levels were detected.
Contaminated Cinnamon Enters the Market
Post processing, the cinnamon was purchased by Negasmart, a company that supplies ingredients to food manufacturers. Negasmart subsequently sold the cinnamon to Austrofoods, a company that is known for producing the apple cinnamon fruit pouches that ended up being distributed across multiple states in the US.
Ensuring Safety of Food Products
In light of this incident, authorities are emphasizing the need for stringent control and oversight over food manufacturing and processing operations. Especially in a scenario where ingredients are sourced from different parts of the world, food safety becomes a global concern. Rising efforts are seen towards improving safety standards in supply chains to avoid such incidents in the future.
The FDA, along with health authorities from Ecuador and Sri Lanka, are cooperating to trace back the contaminant source and understand how such a severe lapse in food safety occurred. The investigation also seeks to rule out further risks of lead contamination.
Health authorities are urging consumers to be more cautious while purchasing food products and to read labels thoroughly, until more details about the contaminated products are revealed. The list of potentially affected products and safe alternatives will be updated on the FDA’s website. It is paramount for consumers to stay updated and informed to ensure their and their children’s safety.
As this investigation unfolds, it is evident that synergic action on part of all stakeholders is essential for preventing such an incident from repeating in the future.