Toxic Applesauce Scandal Plagues Dollar Tree Amid Failed FDA Recall


The seemingly innocuous shelves of Dollar Tree were concealing a dangerous secret, a ticking health time-bomb – applesauce pouches drenched in toxic lead. These tainted, attractively packaged, child-friendly treats, linked to over 500 reported instances of illness in children, were negligently left on their unsuspecting store shelves for two months, despite a mandated recall, revealed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a fateful Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the warning bells had tolled for Dollar Tree, ringing loud and clear in a sternly worded letter from the FDA. Adding insult to injury, Negasmart, the Ecuadorian distributor responsible for the dissemination of these innocent-looking, yet harmful WanaBana apple cinnamon pouches, was put under import alerts in consequence of the alarming recall that took place in October 2023. The products in question were found to be soaked in horrific “extremely high” levels of lead and chromium.

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The contaminated applesauce pouches, cleverly marketed for toddlers, led to probable or confirmed cases of alarmingly elevated blood lead levels in children spread across an astronomical number of 44 States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This horrifying outbreak was officially declared as at an end only in April.

In a sternly worded cautionary message, FDA officials chastised Dollar Tree Inc. last week, noting that the now infamous WanaBana apple puree products lingered hauntingly on store shelves in numerous states until late December. This was a full two months after the company was duly informed about the recall. Officials from the seemingly unsuspecting Chesapeake, Virginia-based company insisted they had barred sales of the harmful products at the cash registers, but the FDA shot down this claim as “ineffective”, citing the distressing instance of a child in Washington State ingesting the recalled harmful fruit pouch right in the store, before a thwarted purchase attempt.

In a defense emailed on Tuesday, officials from Dollar Tree were quick to point out that the company is now operating under fresh, perhaps more alert, management, and is orchestrating a concerted effort to reinforce their process for “swiftly and effectively executing product recalls”. For record, Dollar Tree operates an extensive network of over 16,000 discount stores in an impressive 48 states.

Negasmart, at the eye of this storm, was slammed with multiple import alerts this month, even though FDA officials said there was no sign of any attempts by the embattled firm to bring products into the U.S. This action was taken as a precautionary measure, to ensure that any future attempts to import products by the firm would be red-flagged by vigilant FDA reviewers, thereby averting further potential harm to consumers.

In the aftermath of this debacle, health providers were alerted to offer consultation to anyone unfortunate enough to have consumed the recalled poisonous pouches. The CDC issued reminders that no level of lead consumption is safe, emphasizing that it could trigger serious learning and behavior problems. This powerful warning extended to the pouches sold not only under the WanaBana brand at Dollar Tree stores and online, but also those marketed under the Schnucks and Weis brands in stores. Owing to their long shelf life, chances are they may still be lurking in consumers’ homes. The warning was clear – discard immediately and do not consume or serve these pouches.