What to Know About the Cinnamon Recall

<p>catlencke / Getty Images</p>

catlencke / Getty Images

Fact checked by Nick Blackmer

Key Takeaways

  • The FDA says certain cinnamon brands contain concerning levels of lead.

  • While there haven’t been serious health events associated with this lead contamination, you should discard any affected bottles of cinnamon or foods made with affected cinnamon.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of six brands of cinnamon due to lead contamination concerns last week.

Through product testing, the agency identified the following brands that significantly exceed permissible levels of lead:

  • La Fiesta

  • Marcum

  • MK

  • Swad

  • Supreme Tradition

  • El Chilar

If you have any of the affected cinnamons, which can be identified by lot numbers and best-by dates, the FDA encourages you to throw them away.

This cinnamon recall follows a saga that’s been unfolding since 2023. The FDA has already recalled several brands of cinnamon apple sauce pouches for lead contamination after over 450 children fell ill after ingesting them. Consumers should continue to avoid cinnamon applesauce pouches manufactured by WanaBana, Schnucks, and Weis.

“The biggest thing to note in the latest recall is that while these products contained lead, the amounts are significantly lower than lead levels seen in past recalls to cause potential harm, such as the recalled applesauce pouches this past fall,” registered dietitian Melissa Mitri, RD, told Verywell. "The overall message is: Be informed but don’t fear cinnamon. These six companies will now have to re-check and re-formulate their products per the FDA’s requirements and remove as much lead as possible. The FDA also continues to push for reducing contaminants like lead in all food products in its Closer to Zero initiative.”

How Did Lead Get Into Cinnamon?

Cinnamon can become exposed to lead through a variety of environmental and manufacturing processes. Lead-contaminated soil is a primary source of exposure, as cinnamon trees absorb lead through their roots. The lead then accumulates in the bark—the part of the tree commonly ground into cinnamon spice.

Another potential point of exposure is during processing and packaging when equipment and materials tainted with lead can contaminate the cinnamon.

Measures to mitigate lead exposure in cinnamon involve monitoring and reducing lead levels in soil, using lead-free equipment in processing, and adhering to strict quality control standards to ensure the safety and health of consumers.

Why Is Lead Exposure a Health Concern?

Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal that has many manufacturing applications but is toxic to humans and animals. It can accumulate in the body over time with exposure, leading to severe health issues. Regulators have significantly restricted or phased out its use in many products and industries due to the health risks associated with exposure.

The negative effects of lead exposure are multifaceted and insidious, impacting nearly every system within the human body.

  • Neurological: Lead exposure can severely impair cognitive function. This is particularly impactful in children, whose developing brains are particularly vulnerable to lead’s toxic effects.

  • Cardiovascular: Adults exposed to high levels of lead may face an increased risk of hypertension and heart disease.

  • Renal: Chronic lead exposure is linked to kidney damage.

  • Reproductive: Lead can cross the placental barrier in pregnant people, negatively affecting fetal development and potentially contributing to premature birth or low birth weight.

Should You Throw Our Your Cinnamon?

Backing the FDA recommendation, experts suggest that you don’t take any chances with this recall.

“While there haven’t been any serious issues reported with the cinnamon recall, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t toss your bottle if you have one that has been recalled,” gut health nutritionist Amanda Sauceda, RD, told Verywell. “Lead is a serious concern that can cause harm, especially in growing children.”

She adds that you shouldn’t just discard your cinnamon bottle but also any items you’ve made with the cinnamon since even small amounts may be harmful.

Ultimately, cinnamon has a place in a safe and healthy diet as long as it’s not contaminated with lead or other dangerous substances.

“Cinnamon has many potential health benefits, such as acting as an antioxidant and managing blood sugar,” Mitri said. “With stringent FDA oversight, the benefits outweigh any potential risks.”

What This Mean For You

If you have cinnamon in your pantry, you should throw out your bottle if you have one of the brands that the FDA named as potentially containing lead: La Fiesta, Marcum, MK, Swad, Supreme Tradition, El Chilar.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.