FDA says to throw away these 6 cinnamon products that contain lead

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Consumers should not purchase half a dozen ground cinnamon products sold by retailers including Family Dollar and Dollar Tree because they contain elevated levels of lead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday in an public health alert.

The warning, which also urged folks to check their spice racks and throw out any of six items, comes after nationwide recalls of lead-tainted applesauce linked to 468 poisonings, mostly involving young children. 

Amid the concern for lead toxicity in kids, the FDA initiated a targeted survey of ground cinnamon products from discount retail stores and analyzed the samples for lead and chromium. The agency found elevated levels of the metals in six brands: 

  • La Fiesta, sold at La Superior and SuperMercados 
  • Marcum, sold at Save A Lot 
  • MTCI, sold at SF Supermarket
  • Swad, sold at Patel Brothers
  • Supreme Tradition, sold at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar
  • El Chilar, sold at La Joya Morelense
    la-fiesta-food-products-la-miranda-ca-la-superior-supermercados.png
    La Fiesta ground cinnamon is one of six cinnamon products found to contain high levels of lead.  U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    marcum-moran-foods-llc-saint-ann-mo-save-a-lot.png
    Marcum ground cinnamon is one of six cinnamon products found to contain lead. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    mtci-santa-fe-springs-ca-sf-supermarket.png
    MTCI cinnamon poweder is one of six cinnamon products found to contain high levels of lead. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    swad-raja-foods-llc-skokie-il-patel-brothers.png
    Swad cinnamon powder is one of six cinnamon product found to contain high levels of lead. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    supreme-tradition-greenbriar-international-inc-chesapeake-va-dollar-tree.png
    Supreme Tradition round cinnamon is one of six products found to contain lead. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    elchilar-cinnamon.png
    El Chilar ground cinnamon is one of six cinnamon products found to contain high levels of lead. U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The FDA is recommending that the manufacturers of the products recall them, with the exception of MTCI cinnamon, as the agency has not been able to reach the company. 

Shortly after the FDA issued its alert, two of the companies announced recalls. Colonna Brothers of North Bergen, N.J., is recalling 1.5-ounce Ground Cinnamon and 2.25-ounce Supreme Tradition Ground Cinnamon distributed nationwide and through mail order (See here for further details.) Colonna said it had ceased production and distribution of all cinnamon. 

In addition, El Chilar Rodriguez of Apopka, Fla., is recalling 127 cases of El Chilar Ground Cinnamon “Canela Molida” sold in 1.25-ounce bags, distributed by La Raza of Forestville, Md., and sold at retail stores throughout Maryland.

Most people do not show obvious immediate symptoms of lead exposure, but prolonged exposure to the metals could be unsafe.

Exposure to lead in utero, infancy and early childhood can lead to harmful neurological effects like learning and behavior disabilities and lowered IQ, according to the regulator. For adults, chronic lead exposure is linked to kidney dysfunction, hypertension and neurocognitive effects.

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.

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