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‘Likely’ source of recalled applesauce contamination found, FDA says

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‘Likely’ source of recalled applesauce contamination found, FDA says

Ecuadorian officials identified a processor that is likely behind the contaminated applesauce products tied to hundreds of possible lead poisoning cases around the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday. But U.S. health officials say they “cannot take direct action.”

In an updated notice about the ongoing investigation into WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis-brand apple cinnamon pouches, the FDA said Carlos Aguilera of Ecuador “is the likely source of contamination and is not in operation at this time.”

According to officials, Carlos Aguilera was the processor of the ground cinnamon supplied by Negasmart to Austrofoods, which manufactured the pouches. 

Additionally, officials in Ecuador said the unprocessed cinnamon sticks used in recalled products that were sourced from Sri Lanka were “found to have no lead contamination.”

NY HEALTH OFFICIALS CONFIRM LEAD CASE TIED TO APPLESAUCE RECALL

The FDA said in the updated notice that it has “limited authority over foreign ingredient suppliers who do not directly ship product to the U.S.” because the food undergoes further manufacturing and processing before being exported. 

FDA expands investigation into applesauce contaminated with lead. (FDA / Fox News)

“Thus, the FDA cannot take direct action with Negasmart or Carlos Aguilera,” the agency said. 

Ecuadorian officials said the “investigation and legal proceedings to determine ultimate responsibility for the contamination are still ongoing.”

RECALLED APPLESAUCE PRODUCTS WERE ON CERTAIN STORE SHELVES IN MID-DECEMBER DESPITE GROWING LEAD CASES

In December, as illnesses continued to climb nationwide, the FDA warned it was exploring the possibility that the high lead levels in the pouches were the “result of economically motivated adulteration.” 

The agency had until Feb. 2 to detail in a briefing to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee why it believes the lead contamination in the recalled applesauce pouches could have been intentional and the steps it has taken to investigate the matter, as well as prevent future illicit food contamination in the supply chain. 

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In a recent statement to FOX Business, the FDA maintained that this is just one theory it is exploring and that additional investigation needs to occur before the agency can reach any conclusion. 

“The FDA remains committed to working in good faith with Congress to provide information,” it said. 

The agency has received about 90 reports of possible lead poisoning cases as of Jan. 22. 

As of Feb 2., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is also investigating the outbreak, received a total of 413 cases from 43 different states, of which 100 are confirmed.

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