FDA Alerts Consumers to Lead-Contaminated Cinnamon


In early March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert warning American consumers to avoid several types of ground cinnamon products after testing revealed that they contained elevated levels of lead.

The FDA Alert, issued on March 6, 2024, stems from product testing prompted after widespread contamination in fruit purée applesauce pouches from Schnucks, WanaBana, and Weis was linked to cases of lead poisoning in more than 460 children across 44 states. In that matter, the FDA identified the cinnamon contained in the pouches as the source of the heavy metal.

Lead Contamination in Ground Cinnamon

According to the FDA, extensive product testing has revealed that affected ground cinnamon products contain elevated levels of lead, a naturally occurring heavy metal that can be hazardous to human health with extensive or prolonged exposure.

Specifically, FDA tests found lead levels ranging from 2 parts per million to 4 parts per million in the ground cinnamon products. While that’s far lower than the 2,000 – 5,000 parts per million discovered in the contaminated Ecuadorian cinnamon found in recently recalled applesauce pouches, it is still a concerning level.

The American Spice Trade Association, for example, has 2 parts per million limit for lead in bark spices such as cinnamon. The FDA currently has no limit for heavy metals in spices but does set a 1 part per million limit of lead in candy consumed by children, a demographic that is particularly at risk for severe adverse health effects, including cognitive impairments, when exposed to lead.

The FDA also provided some additional information for consumers:

  • Unconfirmed Source. Cinnamon in the U.S. is imported from countries, including Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, and other parts of Southeast Asia. As such, the FDA say the source of the recalled cinnamon, or where it was produced, is not clear at this time. Officials have also noted that it does not appear that cinnamon contained in the ground cinnamon products came from the same contaminated Ecuadorian source responsible for lead contaminated applesauce pouches.
  • How Lead Contaminates Cinnamon. Lead and heavy metals can be found in a variety of foods and spices, as they come from natural sources such as soil and water. Spices can also accumulate lead from other environmental sources, such as leaded gasoline and pollution, as well as from manufacturing, storage, or shipping processes. In some cases, spices have been mixed with additives, including those containing lead, to boost weight or color and product value. This is the suspected source of contamination for the recently recalled applesauce pouches.
  • Health Impacts. Ingestion of any amount of lead is unsafe and should be avoided. Because spices like cinnamon are used in relatively small amounts, the greatest risks come from weeks or months of exposure. Lead exposure can increase risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney damage in adults and is especially harmful to children, where it can cause various cognitive impairments and problems with learning and behavior.

What Cinnamon Products Are Affected?

The FDA Alert applies to various lots from at least six different spice brands sold at stores and supermarkets nationwide. These include:

  1. La Fiesta
    1. Distributed by: La Fiesta Food Products, La Mirada, CA
    2. Retailers: La Superior SuperMercados
    3. Affected Lots: 25033
    4. Lead Contamination (ppm): 2.73
  2. Marcum
    1. Distributed by: Moran Foods, LLC, Saint Ann, MO (Manufactured by Colonna Brothers, Inc.)
    2. Retailers: Save A Lot
    3. Affected Lots: Units with Best Buy Dates:
      1. 10/16/25 10DB
      2. 04/06/25 0400B1 (Missouri)
    4. Lead Contamination: 3.2; 2.9
  3. MK
    1. Distributed by: MTCI, Santa Fe Springs, CA
    2. Retailers: La Superior SF Supermarket
    3. Affected Lots: No codes
    4. Lead Contamination: 2.99
  4. Swad
    1. Distributed by: Raja Foods LLC, Skokie, IL
    2. Retailers: Patel Brothers
    3. Affected Lots: Best Before Date July 2026 KX21223
    4. Lead Contamination: 2.12
  5. Supreme Tradition
    1. Distributed by: Greenbrier International, Inc., Chesapeake, VA
    2. Retailers: Dollar Tree, Family Dollar
    3. Affected Lots: Best Buy Dates:
      1. 09/29/25 09E8; 04/17/25 04E11
      2. 12/19/25 12C2
      3. 04/12/25 04ECB12
      4. 08/24/25 08A_ _
      5. 04/21/25 04E5
      6. 04/21/25 04E5
      7. 2025-09-22 09E20 (Missouri)
    4. Lead Contamination: 2.03 – 3.37
  6. El Chilar
    1. Distributed by: El Chilar, Apopka, FL
    2. Retailers: La Joya Morelense (Baltimore, MD)
    3. Affected Lots:
      1. F275EX1026 (Maryland)
      2. D300EX1024 (Maryland)
    4. Lead Contamination: 3.4; 2.93

Following the FDA’s Alert, all distributors aside from MTCI have issued voluntary recalls for their affected ground cinnamon products. Some manufacturers, including El Chilar and Colonna Brothers, have issued recalls containing a broader scope of cinnamon products than what was identified by the FDA.

Consumers are advised to stop using these products and dispose of them immediately. And because these products have a long shelf life, consumers should also check their homes and pantries for recalled, rarely used products on their shelves and discard them accordingly.

Lead Contamination & Products Liability Lawsuits

Over the years, sweeping recalls, high-profile lawsuits, and record-breaking payouts have raised awareness about the dangers of heavy metal contamination in our water and food products.

Often, these cases involve children, who are especially at risk of suffering lifelong disabilities and cognitive deficits when exposed to lead for prolonged periods of time. This was precisely the case in the recent recalls involving lead-contaminated cinnamon applesauce pouches, which sickened nearly 500 children nationwide, and in the historic litigation over the Flint Water Crisis, where defendants agreed to pay $626 million to settle claims involving thousands of children and victims exposed to lead-contaminated water.

In cases involving defective and unsafe products – including unsafe or contaminated foods – injured victims and families may have grounds to pursue legal action. This may include products liability claims brought against manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers of unsafe products based on various causes of action, such as negligence or design, manufacturing, or marketing defects.

Call For a FREE Case Evaluation: (916) 520-6639

At Kershaw Talley Barlow, our award-winning trial lawyers have a proven record of success helping victims harmed by unsafe foods, consumer products, and medical devices fight back against companies that failed to uphold their obligations for ensuring the safety of their products. Backed by decades of experience and extensive resources, we’ve recovered more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements and have cultivated a legacy for litigating complex claims against some of the nation’s most powerful corporations.

If you or someone you love suffered harm caused by lead-contaminated cinnamon, we’re available to discuss your rights and legal options during a FREE consultation. Our attorneys proudly serve victims and families nationwide and collect no fee unless we win. To speak with a lawyer, call (916) 520-6639 or contact us online.