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"Our local health departments do so much more than most realize to protect the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians..."
RALEIGH, NC, November 22, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors (NCALHD) is celebrating the impact of its member health departments, Catawba County Public Health, The Cleveland County Health Department, and The Madison County Health Department for their early and instrumental roles in identifying and addressing recent lead contamination in a commercial children's food product.
A joint investigation by local health departments, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Federal Drug Administration found several cases of elevated blood levels in children in the Western part of the state.
Catawba County Public Health along with NCDHHS was recognized by state leaders in public health after its team's investigation found the source of the lead exposure in children as the WanaBana brand's apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches. The child snack is sold at major retailers including Sam's Club, Amazon and Dollar Tree.
Madison County Health Department had identified a case of high lead levels and was monitoring the case when the levels spiked. The county arranged for a home assessment, taking various samples. The department continues to work with the family, providing guidance and support. Cases were also identified and addressed in Cleveland County.
A local healthcare provider reported a high blood lead level in a child patient to a nurse in Cleveland County Public Health Center's Case Management for At Risk Children (CMARC) program. It was reported that the child had been eating WanaBana fruit puree pouches purchased from a local Dollar Tree. The Cleveland County Health Department continues to follow-up with the family to monitor the child's blood lead levels as well as continues to provide information and education to the community about the recall of these products and signs and symptoms of lead poisoning to be mindful of.
"Our local health departments do so much more than most realize to protect the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians. This is a perfect example of local, state and federal health agencies coming together to develop a quick and effective response to a public health risk," said NCALHD Executive Director Patrick Brown. "We're very proud of these three health departments for their role in this response, and we know that all eighty-six health departments in North Carolina are working tirelessly every day to protect anyone who lives, works or visits their county."
The FDA has issued a voluntary recall of the products. NCDHHS recommends that persons with WanaBana brand apple cinnamon puree products in their homes refrain from feeding them to their children, immediately dispose of them, and discuss blood testing with your healthcare provider if there any health concerns for their children.
Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children include: irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness and fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, hearing loss, seizures, and eating objects that are not food (pica).
For more information, visit: https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/investigation-elevated-lead-levels-cinnamon-applesauce-pouches-november-2023
The North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors (NCALHD) is an advocacy organization that represents the eighty-six health departments that serve all one hundred counties in North Carolina. NCALHD promotes health, prevent disease, protects the environment in order to ensure the public's health in North Carolina through leadership, vision, advocacy, and commitment to the principles of public health practice in our local communities and throughout the state.
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