Recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches that were tied to lead poisoning in hundreds of U.S. children contained an additional contaminant, federal health officials said Friday.
Besides lead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said investigators detected "a high level" of the chemical element chromium, which can be toxic, in WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree and in cinnamon collected from the Ecuador factory where the pouches were manufactured.
The additional details come as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 287 confirmed, probable or suspected lead poisoning cases from 37 states in the outbreak first detected in October. At least one adult has reported high blood lead levels after eating the lead-tainted pouches, but the median age of those sickened is 1, the FDA said.
It's not clear what type of chromium was detected in the products, FDA investigators said.
Chromium is a naturally occurring element with traces typically found in the human diet. One form, called chromium III, is considered an essential nutrient. Another, chromium VI, is known to cause cancer.
The lead-to-chromium ratio found in the factory is consistent with lead chromate, a compound that has been previously reported as a contaminant in certain spices, officials said. But that finding is not definitive evidence that the substance was the contaminant in the pouches, they said.
Anyone who consumed the recalled pouches should consult with a health care provider, the CDC said. There is no safe level of lead consumption, the agency emphasized.
The recalled pouches include those sold under the WanaBana brand at Dollar Tree stores and online and under the Schnucks and Weis brands in stores. Because they have a long shelf life, they may still be in consumers' homes. Consumers should not eat or serve the pouches and should discard them.