Statement: FDA warns Americans to not use several brands of cinnamon

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CLEVELAND — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday warned consumers not to use six brands of ground cinnamon that “contain elevated levels of lead and that prolonged exposure to these products may be unsafe.” The FDA put out a list of which distributors, retailers, brand names and lot or code numbers to look out for and has recommended that the companies recall the products.

Since the FDA first recalled a variety of apple cinnamon fruit pouches last fall, the government agency has been testing that class of products for the toxic heavy metals lead and chromium. Exposure to lead impairs development, learning and behavior in children and can cause a wide variety of health problems in people of all ages. As of Feb. 23, the FDA had received 468 reports of “confirmed,” “probable” or “suspected” lead exposure cases across 44 states.

In response, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray released the following statement:

“While the FDA deserves credit for its investigation and trying to let the public know its findings, this latest announcement about lead in applesauce is yet another example of how broken our food recall system is.

“If we know that a food is making people sick, the FDA should be able to tell the company behind it to recall that product, rather than asking and waiting to see whether the company complies. Time is our enemy when tainted food remains on store shelves, in kitchen cabinets and refrigerators. The FDA can’t currently recall potentially dangerous foods without giving the manufacturer or distributor the opportunity to recall it voluntarily. We need the FDA to use all of its authority, and if that’s not enough to protect Americans’ health, Congress must give the agency the power it needs to do so.”

“We also urge consumers and business owners who use cinnamon to continue to monitor this issue while the FDA continues its probe.”