Dollar Tree Inc. is under fire after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicly released a damning warning letter addressed to CEO Rick Dreiling. The FDA’s investigation found that Dollar Tree stores continued offering WanaBana Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches contaminated with high lead levels despite a recall initiated in October 2023.

The recall began when the FDA, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments, detected elevated lead levels in the fruit puree pouches, linked to cases of lead poisoning in children. Laboratory tests confirmed the dangerous lead levels in samples collected from Dollar Tree stores, making the product unsafe for consumption under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

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Wanabana USA, the product’s manufacturer, voluntarily recalled the Apple Cinnamon Fruit Puree pouches on October 29, 2023. According to the FDA’s letter, Dollar Tree was promptly notified but failed to remove the hazardous products from their shelves.

The FDA conducted multiple Recall Audit Checks (RACs) through state and local partners, revealing that Dollar Tree did not effectively communicate the recall to its stores. Reports indicated that numerous stores continued selling the recalled product well into December 2023 despite repeated warnings and communications from the FDA.

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According to the letter,  on November 6, 2023, a consumer complaint in Kitsap County, WA, highlighted the flawed response to the recall. A child consumed a fruit pouch directly off the shelf, only for the parent to be informed at the register that the item was part of an active recall.

Throughout November and December 2023, Dollar Tree assured the FDA of its efforts to remove the product. Yet, the FDA said they continued to receive reports of the recalled pouches being available in stores. Despite promises of corrective actions and hiring a third-party auditor, the company failed to demonstrate long-term, sustainable measures to prevent such violations in the future.

The FDA’s letter emphasized that the continued sale of these adulterated products seriously violates federal law and urged Dollar Tree to take immediate corrective actions to prevent recurrence. Failure to comply could result in legal actions, including seizures and injunctions.