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County says lead-tainted product was sold in Libby

by The Western News
| November 16, 2023 7:00 AM

Federal, state, and local officials are urging medical providers to be on the lookout for possible cases of lead poisoning in children after at least 22 toddlers in 14 states were sickened as of Nov. 7, 2023, by lead linked to tainted pouches of cinnamon apple puree and applesauce.

The following were recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to reports of elevated levels of lead found in certain units of the products:

- WanaBana brand apple cinnamon fruit purée pouches;

- Schnucks brand cinnamon applesauce pouches;

- Weis brand cinnamon applesauce pouches;

According to Jennifer McCully, Lincoln County Public Health Manager, this product was sold in Libby. 

"If people have questions or concerns or questions about lead testing, they should call their provider or us at 406-283-2463," McCully said. 

Montana isn’t among the 14 states with confirmed cases, but according to the FDA and DPHHS these products were sold at Dollar Tree stores in Montana prior to the recall announcement and have been removed from 19 stores across the state.

These products are also sold and available nationally through multiple retailers, including Amazon and other online outlets.

“If you think your child may have consumed recalled fruit pouches, you should talk to your child’s health care provider about getting a blood test for lead,” said Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek, Public Health Physician at DPHHS. “These products also have a long shelf life, so consumers are advised to check their homes and discard these products.”

There is no safe level of lead exposure, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a marker of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels higher than most.

In this outbreak, the affected children’s blood lead levels ranged from 4 to 29 micrograms per deciliter. The reported symptoms of children with lead poisoning may include, but are not limited to, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a change in activity level and anemia.

Cook-Shimanek said children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults because their nervous systems are still developing. Although children with lead exposure may have no apparent acute symptoms, even low levels have been associated with learning, behavioral and cognitive effects.