Dollar Tree left tainted applesauce on shelves for months, FDA says

Applesauce pouches contaminated with heavy amounts of lead remained on Dollar Tree store shelves for nearly two months after being recalled and linked to hundreds of lead poisonings nationwide, according to federal regulators.

In the weeks and months that followed the recall of apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches, public health officials across many states continued to report seeing recalled WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches on Dollar Tree store shelves, the Food and Drug Administration stated in a Tuesday update.

The discount chain continued selling cinnamon applesauce well after WanaBana USDA recalled all of its Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches on Oct. 29, 2023, “despite FDA’s numerous attempts to bring this serious issue to your attention,” the agency stated in a warning letter to the company’s CEO, Rick Dreiling. 

Through Dec. 19, 2023, the recall was ineffective at the retail level due to Dollar Tree’s failure to pull the product, the agency stated.

Reached for comment, Dollar Tree seemed to dispute the FDA’s version of events. 

“In October 2023, Dollar Tree took immediate action and began executing a recall of WanaBana’s Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree Pouch upon being notified of the issue with the product. We continue to cooperate with FDA on this matter,” the company said in an emailed statement. 

As of March 22, 2024, the CDC had received reports of 519 elevated blood lead level cases — 136 confirmed — from 44 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

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