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Ecuador officials name likely source of tainted cinnamon that poisoned U.S. children

Officials in Ecuador have named the likely source of contaminated ground cinnamon used in fruit pouches tied to more than 400 potential cases of lead poisoning in U.S. children, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

Carlos Aguilera, a cinnamon-processing company in Ecuador, supplied the spice added to WanaBana and other applesauce pouches sent to the U.S., according to the Ecuadorian regulatory agency ARCSA. The cinnamon, which was sent to another supplier, Negasmart, was found to be contaminated with high levels of lead and chromium, an FDA analysis showed. Carlos Aguilera is not operating at this time, ARCSA said.

The unprocessed cinnamon sticks used in the products were originally imported from Sri Lanka. The sticks were tested and found to have no lead contamination, ARCSA told FDA. The Ecuador agency's investigation is continuing.

FDA has limited authority over foreign ingredient suppliers who do not ship product directly to the U.S. Because the finished pouches, but not the cinnamon itself, were shipped to the U.S., the agency cannot take direct action against Negasmart or Carlos Aguilera, officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of 413 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of lead poisoning, mostly in young children, in 43 states.

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