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Published on June 19, 2024
Dollar Tree Accused of Leaving Poisoned Applesauce on Shelves After FDA RecallSource: Google Street View

The Food and Drug Administration has raised a red flag, signaling serious concerns regarding the handling of a recall by Dollar Tree, where lead-contaminated applesauce pouches were reportedly left on shelves for nearly two months despite warnings. The tainted apple cinnamon pouches, distributed under the WanaBana brand name, were associated with over 500 reported cases of elevated blood lead levels in children spanning 44 states, according to details released on Tuesday and cited by KTLA.

Despite a recall initiated last October, FDA officials indicate that Dollar Tree did not adequately remove the products, which were linked to "extremely high" levels of lead and chromium; moreover, in response to the recall Dollar Tree claimed to have stopped sales at registers but this was deemed insufficient by the FDA after at least one Washington state child consumed a pouch inside a store. Research showed that the cinnamon from Negasmart, the Ecuadorian distributor of the pouches, contained lead levels that were shockingly more than 2,000 times above the FDA's proposed maximum, prompting import alerts to prevent future shipments into the United States.

Failure to efficiently manage the product recall has put Dollar Tree in direct scrutiny of the FDA, which sent a stern warning to the company's CEO Rick Dreiling. In a statement obtained by CBS News, a spokesperson for the discount store chain reported, "In October 2023, Dollar Tree took immediate action and began executing a recall of WanaBana's Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouch upon being notified of the issue with the product. We continue to cooperate with FDA on this matter."

Still, the toll of this oversight has been substantial, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which by March 22, had confirmed 136 cases out of 519 reported elevated blood lead level instances, the ramifications for children's health remain alarming as no level of lead consumption is considered safe and it’s known to cause serious cognitive and behavioral issues. With a shelf life that lends these products to staying power in homes, consumers are urged by the CDC to discontinue consumption or serving of these pouches and are advised to dispose of them promptly.

Dollar Tree, which operates over 16,000 stores across 48 states, has expressed intention to revamp their response to product recalls under new management. It remains to be seen whether these new measures will restore confidence among consumers and comply with the FDA’s rigorous standards for food safety. Individuals who have consumed the recalled pouches are encouraged to seek advice from healthcare providers as there are significant long-term risks associated with lead intake, especially in young children.