The North Carolina parents of two toddlers sued WanaBana after both their children got lead poisoning from eating the company’s allegedly tainted fruit pouches.
Nicole Peterson and Thomas Duong claim their kids, ages 1 and 3, will “require a lifetime of ongoing medical monitoring for potential developmental and health issues,” in the suit filed Jan. 25 in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County, where WanaBana is incorporated.
“This is a nightmare no parent should ever face. Knowing that our children will have to live with the effects of lead poisoning for the rest of their lives is heart-wrenching,” the couple said in a statement.
“This serves as a wake-up call about the dangers that can lurk in everyday food products.”
WanaBana has been hit with several class-action lawsuits after issuing a recall last October of its Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches, which were made in Ecuador.
Subsequent testing by the federal Food and Drug Administration found the purees contained 2,000 times the maximum safe limits for lead, according to one of the class-action complaints.
Peterson and Duong, who are not part of the class-action suits, had fed their children the purees for six months last year, from February to August, and “relied heavily on the products’ labeling, which indicated it was ‘kosher,’ ‘additive-free’ and ‘USDA Organic,’” according to their complaint, which was obtained by The Post.
When they took the kids for their annual exam, both of their blood tests revealed elevated lead levels, according to the complaint.
A follow-up visit three months later showed both toddlers’ blood lead level had doubled, the lawsuit said.
According to Mayo Clinic, 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood is “a possibly unsafe level for children,” causing developmental delays, learning difficulties, vomiting and irritability, among other symptoms.
The couple’s children had 24.1 micrograms per deciliter and 20.8 micrograms per deciliter, respectively, the filing noted.
The worried parents led an investigation into lead levels at their children’s daycare, and even had their own blood lead levels tested — which both came back all clear, per the suit.
Peterson and Duong then conducted a so-called “elimination diet” — which omit food groups and slowly reincorporates them as part of a diagnostic procedure to identify foods that cause issues — and determined that “the only food consumed by the minor children that was not consumed by [Peterson and Duong] were the defendants’ WanaBana Fruit Puree Pouches,” according to the filing.
Peterson and Duong is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, per the complaint, which also says that the parents can take their case before a jury if the company doesn’t agree to a settlement.
As a result of their elevated blood lead levels, Peterson and Duong alleged that their children will need “continued treatment” as they don’t yet know if the children will develop “lead poisoning manifestations,” including developmental and learning delays, in their more formative years.
The Post has sought comment from WanaBana, which has made no statements since the recall.
Peterson and Duong were among the first to report that WanaBana’s products allegedly caused elevated blood lead levels, ultimately leading to the Food and Drug Administration’s recall of the puree pouches, according to the parents’ attorneys at law firm Motley Rice.
The purees were sold throughout the US and remained on shelves at Dollar Tree stores as recently as last December.
The FDA has registered 87 confirmed complaints and adverse event reports potentially connected to the recalled product, according to the class-action complaint, with those impacted ranging in age from infants to 53 years old.
A spokesperson for the FDA told The Post that the agency “does not comment on possible, pending or ongoing litigation beyond what is publicly available.”