Recalled applesauce products were still sitting on certain store shelves in mid-December despite being tied to over 200 lead poisoning cases nationwide, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned.
As of Dec. 13, the WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches were still sitting on store shelves at "at several Dollar Tree stores in multiple states," the FDA said.
A few days later, on Dec. 19, the agency also received a report that the same recalled WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Puree product, including recalled three-packs, may still be on shelves at Family Dollar/Dollar Tree combination stores as well.
The agency already warned consumers in late November that the product was still sitting at several Dollar Tree stores.
Representatives for Dollar Tree have not immediately responded to FOX Business' request for comment.
The most recent warnings come more than a month after Wanabana LLC initiated a recall of its WanaBana, Schnucks, or Weis-brand apple cinnamon pouches – manufactured by Ecuador-based Austrofood – over elevated lead levels.
The recall was prompted after four children in North Carolina had "elevated blood lead levels, indicating potential acute lead toxicity," according to federal health officials.
The product was sold nationally through multiple retailers including Amazon, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar/Dollar Tree combination stores in addition to other online outlets. However, the FDA, which is still conducting its investigation into the matter, said consumers and retailers should properly discard the product.
As of Dec. 26, the FDA has received 82 confirmed reports of adverse events in over 30 states that were potentially linked to recalled products. The age of those impacted reached as high as 53 years old, according to health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is also investigating the outbreak, received reports of 73 confirmed cases, 157 probable cases, and 21 suspected cases. That's a total of 251 reports from health departments across 34 states.
The CDC noted that they have different data sources than the FDA, which is why the case counts might not match.
The FDA previously told FOX Business that one of the theories it was exploring "regarding the high lead levels in the recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches is the potential that the cinnamon contamination occurred as a possible result of economically motivated adulteration."
However, given that the investigation is still ongoing, the agency reiterated that this is only one theory it is exploring, and that "additional investigation needs to occur before FDA reaches any conclusions."
The FDA said samples of cinnamon supplied by Negasmart to Austrofoods revealed "extremely high levels of lead contamination of about 5110 parts per million (ppm) and 2270 ppm."
For context, the FDA said the Codex Alimentarius Commission – an international food standards body established jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization – is considering adopting a maximum level of 2.5 ppm for lead in bark spices, including cinnamon, in 2024.