American Licorice company is recalling black licorice due to elevated levels of lead. The product was found to have 0.33 ppm of lead which could lead to ingestion of 13.2 micrograms of lead per serving. (And those of us who enjoy black licorice...much higher). The issue was discovered by the California Dept of Public Health. There have been no reported cases.
An early symptom of mild lead intoxication lead is anemia, or lack of red blood cells. In higher levels of intoxication, anemia becomes worse and effects begin on the central nervous system including hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and slowed learning. With increased levels, people become irritable and restless, and suffer headaches, tremors, and memory loss. Acute toxicity can lead to kidney failure, convulsions, coma, and death.
There is a long history of lead intoxication. It is believed that the Romans, from the year 30 to 200 or so, suffered the effects of lead toxicity from drinking wine stored in lead-containing containers. This probably accounted for the erratic behavior of the emperors at that time. More recently, moonshiners who used equipment with lead solder (radiators) often suffered the consequences of lead poisoning. Because of this, they tested their 'shine' by taking a small teaspoon full of shine and lighting it on fire. A blue flame was good, and a red flame 'makes you dead'.
In the early days of canned food when the cans were soldered with lead, products could contain lead as high as 0.5ppm. The industry and FDA instituted the use of non-soldered cans which resulted in a marked decrease in lead levels within the population.
FDA News Relasea
American Licorice Company Announces Recall of 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 21, 2012 - American Licorice Company of Union City, CA is recalling 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists due to elevated levels of lead. Only the one pound bag (16 oz.) of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists containing "Best Before Date" of 020413 are affected by this recall. American Licorice is notifying consumers and customers not to consume this candy.
American Licorice learned from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), that some Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists contain levels of lead that could potentially cause health problems to consumers, particularly infants, small children, and pregnant women. American Licorice immediately segregated its entire inventory of 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists.
Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists is a black licorice candy made from molasses, wheat flour, corn syrup, caramel coloring, licorice extract, salt, and anise flavor. The 16 oz. bag is red and white in color with a window in the package to display the black licorice twists.
Recent analysis of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists by CDPH found that the candy contained lead levels as high as .33 parts per million (ppm). This concentration of lead could provide up to 13.2 micrograms of lead per serving and children under 6 years of age should not consume more than 6.0 micrograms of lead per day from all dietary sources. Therefore, the CDPH's position is that the sale of this lot of the 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists is in violation of California statutes.
American Licorice wants to ensure its products are safe. Consequently, in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the CDPH, American Licorice is voluntarily recalling all 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists from all of its customers with affected product. Consumers in possession of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists with the "Best Before Date" of 020413 should not eat the candy and should return it to their place of purchase for a full refund. The "Best Before Date" is located in black ink on the rear of the package.
Pregnant women and parents of children who may have consumed any candy should consult with their physician or health care provider to determine whether further medical testing is required. For more information about lead poisoning, parents and caretakers should contact their local childhood lead poisoning prevention program or local public health department.
American Licorice will be sending recall notices to all of its affected customers. Please contact American Licorice Consumer Support at 886-442-2783 for further information.