FDA inspecting plant in Ecuador that made lead-tainted fruit pouches

U.S. health officials have launched an inspection of a plant in Ecuador that made the cinnamon applesauce pouches linked to dozens of cases of acute lead poisoning in U.S. children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that contaminated cinnamon is the likely source of the lead. An FDA team is collecting samples from the Austrofoods plant that shipped the now recalled applesauce pouches sold widely at Dollar Tree and other stores across the U.S.

The agency said health officials in Ecuador found that cinnamon from Austrofood’s supplier had higher levels of lead than the country allows. The company, Negasmart, is facing sanctions while officials there track down the source of the cinnamon, the FDA reported Tuesday.

At least 64 children from 27 states have reported illnesses potentially linked to the products, which were recalled in late October, the FDA said. So far, all of the children are aged 6 or younger.

The recalled applesauce pouches were sold under the brand names WanaBana, Schnucks and Weis. They were sold at the Dollar Tree, on Amazon and in other online outlets.

The pouches were recalled after officials in North Carolina first reported cases of young children who posted high blood lead levels after eating pouches found to contain extremely high levels of lead.