FDA Says Dollar Tree Is Still Selling Recalled Food to Shoppers
The agency is warning consumers to be careful with what they're buying.
Recalls happen all the time, which makes them very hard to keep with. Did you know that Frito-Lay just recalled some of its chips due to a packaging mixup? Or that Tyson had to pull 30,000 pounds of chicken nuggets off shelves after metal pieces were found inside? For the most part, we put our faith in the retailers we frequent to remove any recalled products from their inventory so we don't accidentally buy them. But now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers that one well-known company has failed to do its part. Read on to discover why the FDA says Dollar Tree is still selling recalled food to shoppers.
The FDA first warned consumers about a fruit pouch recall last month.
On Oct. 29, food manufacturer WanaBana USA announced that it was voluntarily recalling several batches of its WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée Pouches, according to an FDA alert. Then just over a week later, the agency shared an update from the company that indicated it was expanding the recall.
With the new alert, WanaBana USA said it was recalling all lots of its WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Purée Pouches. The recalled product was also distributed in the U.S. as two other private label branded items: Schnucks Cinnamon Apple Sauce and Weis Cinnamon Apple Sauce. The affected Schnucks lots were identified as 05023:19, 09023:22, and 09023:24, while the affected lot number for Weis is 05023:28, according to the alert.
The products were recalled for potential elevated lead levels.
This WanaBana recall was initiated "due to reports of elevated levels of lead found in certain units," according to the alert. After four people fell ill, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services were prompted to investigate the pouches, and their analysis determined that there were elevated concentrations of lead in the now-recalled products.
As a result of these findings, WanaBana USA initiated its voluntary recall and said it is continuing to work closely with the FDA to "investigate the source of the contamination," the the company's announcement noted.
"Lead is toxic to humans and can affect people of any age or health status," the FDA states on its website. "The long-term adverse health effects from consuming lead vary depending on the level in the food or water, length of time of exposure, age of the consumer, and other exposures happening at the same time—either to lead from other sources, or other contaminants or to beneficial nutrients."
When it comes to adults, the agency says that chronic lead exposure is associated with kidney dysfunction, hypertension, and neurocognitive effects. But elevated levels of lead are particularly concerning for children, "because of their smaller body sizes, metabolism, and rapid growth," according to the agency. Exposure to high amounts of lead as a child can lead to learning disabilities, behavior difficulties, and lowered IQ.
The agency said Dollar Tree is still selling this product to shoppers.
In a "current update" on the fruit pouch recall, the FDA said it is continuing to investigate reported of "elevated blood lead levels in individuals with reported exposure to Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches manufactured in Ecuador and sold under WanaBana, Weis, and Schnucks brands."
As of Nov. 22, there have have been 52 reports of adverse events potentially linked to these recalled products, according to the agency.
These fruit pouches were sold nationally at stores including Dollar Tree, Schnucks, Eatwell Markets, and Weis, and they were also available to purchase online through outlets such as Amazon. But in the FDA's update, the agency said that one of these retailers is still selling the recalled products to shoppers.
"FDA is aware that recalled WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree is still on the shelves at several Dollar Tree stores in multiple states," the update stated. "This product should not be available for sale and consumers should not purchase or consume this product as it is potentially contaminated with lead, which can be harmful to health, particularly for children."
The FDA added that consumers "should not eat, sell, or serve" any of the recalled WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis-brand pouches and should throw them away immediately.
"These products have a long shelf life. Consumers should check their homes and discard these products," the agency shared. "To properly discard the product, consumers and retailers should carefully open the pouch and empty the content into a trash can before discarding the packaging to prevent others from salvaging recalled product from the trash. Clean up any spills after discarding the product then wash your hands."
Dollar Tree says it has instructed stores to remove the fruit pouches from shelves.
When Best Life reached out to Dollar Tree about the FDA's claims, a company spokesperson assured that the retailer is "committed to the safety and integrity of the products" sold at its stores.
"In response to WanaBana's Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouch voluntary recall announcement, Dollar Tree locked its registers to prevent sales and instructed stores to remove the product from the shelves," the spokesperson said. "We are aware of the FDA's recent report and have worked with our store operations teams to ensure the recalled WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches are no longer in our stores and destroyed according to FDA guidelines."
The spokesperson confirmed that Dollar Tree does sell other WanaBana products that are not part of the recall, however. But they reiterated that the company's registers are now "programmed to not allow a sale" of the recalled WanaBana pouches to go through, and that "all stores have verified that associates are aware of the recall and product has been destroyed."
- Source: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/wanabana-issues-voluntary-recall-wanabana-apple-cinnamon-fruit-puree-pouches-due-elevated-lead
- Source: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/wanabana-recalls-wanabana-weis-and-schnucks-apple-cinnamon-fruit-puree-pouches-cinnamon-apple-sauce
- Source: https://www.fda.gov/food/environmental-contaminants-food/lead-food-foodwares-and-dietary-supplements
- Source: https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/investigation-elevated-lead-levels-cinnamon-applesauce-pouches-november-2023