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Black licorice recall grows; high lead levels blamed

American Licorice Co.

Bags of jumbo black licorice have been added to a growing recall of the treat because of worries about high lead levels.

More than a dozen types of black licorice treats — from jumbo tubs to mixed bags — have been added to a growing recall of the California-made candy because they may contain high levels of lead. 

California health officials are warning consumers not to eat certain Red Vines black licorice products because they also appear to contain levels of lead that could be harmful, especially for pregnant women and young children. 

"Consumers in possession of the candy should discard it immediately," Dr. Ron Chapman, the state's health officer, said in a release Friday. 

The move follows an Aug. 22 recall of 1-pound bags of Red Vines Black Licorice Twists made by the American Licorice Co. of Union City, Calif. 

Analysis by the California Department of Public Health found that samples of the black licorice candy contained as much as .33 parts per million of lead, the agency said in a press release. That concentration could provide up to 13.2 micrograms of lead per serving, more than double the daily limit, for instance, for children younger than 6. Kids younger than that age should not consume more than 6.0 micrograms of lead per day from all dietary sources, health officials indicated.

Officials have been investigating the source of the lead contamination, said Pat Kennelly, a food safety expert with the California Department of Public Health. 

Lead can be dangerous to pregnant women and young children. It is a heavy metal that can be toxic to developing organs and may impair neurological development. Long-term lead poisoning has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems in children.

California officials warned that pregnant women and parents of children who may have eaten the candy to talk with their doctors to determine if medical testing is necessary.

The new recall includes these licorice products: 

  • Black Licorice Bar, 2.5 ounces
  • Jumbo Black Licorice Hanging Bag, 8 ounces
  • Black Licorice Tray, 5 ounces
  • Black Licorice Laydown Bag, 7 ounces
  • Black Licorice Laydown Bag, 16 ounces
  • Black Licorice Jar, 4 pounds
  • Mixed Bites Hanging Bag, 8 ounces
  • Mixed Bites Bag, 16 ounces
  • Family Mix Laydown Bag, 24 ounces
  • Family Mix Laydown Bag, 32 ounces
  • Snaps Hanging Bag, 5.5 ounces
  • Snaps Theater Box, 4.5 ounces
  • Snaps Tin, 12 ounces

Consumers who find the candy for sale are urged to call the CDPH complaint hotline at 1-800-495-3232.

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