Hawai'i State News

Hawaiʻi AG joins call for urgent FDA action to protect keiki from toxic metals in baby food

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Hawaiʻi Attorney General Anne Lopez is one of 20 attorneys general nationwide calling for action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect babies and young children throughout the United States from lead and other toxic metals in baby food.

WanaBana, Weis and Schnucks brands applesauce pouches were among those recently recalled after hundreds of childhood lead poisoning cases throughout the United States. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

Lopez and the coalition in a letter sent today urged the FDA to act on an October 2021 petition and subsequent June 2022 petition and letter asking the agency to issue specific guidance to the baby food industry requiring testing of all finished food products for lead and other toxic metals.

The coalition cited recent findings of hundreds of childhood lead poisoning cases linked to recalled WanaBana, Schnucks and Weis brand cinnamon applesauce pouches that were sold in stores throughout the country without first being tested for toxic metals.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified nearly 400 confirmed or probable childhood lead poisoning cases nationwide in connection with consumption of these cinnamon applesauce pouches.


“The recent nationwide recall of lead-contaminated apple sauce is a reminder that our food security in Hawaiʻi is dependent not only on increased local production but also on robust federal regulation that promotes good manufacturing practices and accountability,” said Hawaiʻi Deputy Attorney General Wade Hargrove of the department’s Health Division. “This petition calls on the FDA to better regulate baby food by mandating finished product testing to prevent our most vulnerable population from being exposed to toxic chemicals in the very foods that are often touted as essential for good health.”

Joining Lopez in sending the letter are the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter can be found online.

Hawaiʻi Attorney General Anne Lopez

Despite concluding years ago that babies’ and young children’s smaller bodies and metabolism make them more susceptible to the harmful effects of toxic metals, the FDA has established only one action level for one type of toxic metal, inorganic arsenic, in one type of baby food product, infant rice cereal.

Under existing FDA policy, baby food manufacturers are left to decide whether or not to even test their products for toxic metals and other contaminants.

In April 2021, the FDA announced the Closer to Zero plan, under which the agency committed to proposing “action levels” for lead in various baby foods by April 2022, inorganic arsenic in various baby foods by April 2024 and cadmium and mercury sometime after April 2024. FDA has since removed those deadlines from its Closer to Zero website.


In October 2021, Lopez joined 22 other attorneys general from throughout the nation in filing a petition with the FDA, urging the agency to issue clear industry guidance on testing for lead and other toxic metals in finished baby and toddler food products. After the FDA denied the 2021 petition, the coalition sought reconsideration in June 2022.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled WanaBana, Schnucks and Weis brand cinnamon applesauce pouches and might still have them in their should safely discard them by carefully opening each pouch and emptying the contents into the garbage to prevent others from possibly salvaging and consuming the recalled products.

For more information about these recalled products, click here.

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