Dollar Tree left lead-tainted applesauce pouches on store shelves for months after recall, FDA says

The Food and Drug Administration says that Dollar Tree failed to effectively recall lead-tainted applesauce pouches, leaving the product on store shelves for two months.

The FDA sent a warning letter to Dollar Tree earlier this month and placed Negasmart, the Ecuadorian distributor of WanaBana apple cinnamon pouches, under import alerts. 

FDA officials sent a warning letter to Dollar Tree Inc. last week saying the WanaBana apple puree products remained on store shelves in several states through late December – two months after the firm was told about the recall. 

Officials at the Chesapeake, Virginia-based company had said they disallowed sales of the products at registers, but the FDA said that was "not an effective measure" because at least one child in Washington state ate a recalled fruit pouch in a store before an attempted purchase.


The FDA has expanded its investigation into applesauce contaminated with lead. (FDA/Fox News)

Dollar Tree officials said in an email Tuesday that the company is operating under new management and is taking steps to bolster its process "for quickly and effectively executing product recalls." The company operates more than 16,000 discount stores in 48 states.

Applesauce pouches recalled

Last October, the products were recalled after they were found to be contaminated with "extremely high" levels of lead and chromium.

Children in 44 states had probable or confirmed cases of elevated blood lead levels after eating the applesauce pouches marketed for toddlers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak was declared over in April.

RELATED: Lead-tainted applesauce pouches contained additional potential toxic substance, FDA says

Besides lead, the FDA also said investigators detected "a high level" of the chemical element chromium, which can be toxic. 

According to the CDC, there is no safe level of lead consumption, which can cause serious learning and behavior problems. 

The 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.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.