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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Safety

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Recall -- State Press Release

 

State Health Department Warns Consumers Not to Eat Chaca Chaca, Lead-Contaminated Candy From Mexico

 

Contact:
Ken August or Lea Brooks
(916) 440-7660

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --Sacramento, CA -- March 18, 2004 -- Consumers, particularly infants, young children and pregnant women, should avoid eating Chaca Chaca, an imported chili-based candy from Mexico, because this product may contain excessively high levels of lead that could cause serious health problems, Dr. Gilberto Chavez, associate director and state epidemiologist of the California Department of Health Services (CDHS), warned today.

"Lead is toxic to humans, especially infants, young children and developing fetuses, in both short- and long-term exposures, and can result in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders that could last a lifetime," Chavez said.

Recent analysis of Chaca Chaca by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified that the candy may contain as much as 0.3 to 0.4 micrograms of lead per gram of product. FDA has recommended that children under age 6 should not consume more than 6.0 micrograms of lead each day from all food sources. Because of the large size of these candies, which are more than 30 grams in weight per piece, a young child eating one of these contaminated candies could ingest nearly twice the recommended level. FDA has placed the Chaca Chaca product on "Import Alert" to detain future shipments of the candy and prevent its importation into the United States.

Chaca Chaca is a brownish-red colored fruit pulp bar that is coated with salt and chili powder. The candy is sold in packages of several small individually wrapped strips that often include a picture of a locomotive on the wrapper. The candy can be found in small markets throughout California.

Pregnant women and parents of children who may have consumed Chaca Chaca should consult with their physician or health care provider to determine if further medical testing is warranted. For more information about lead poisoning, parents and caretakers should contact their local childhood lead poisoning prevention program or local public health department. Additional information and a list of local childhood lead prevention programs are available at CDHS' Web site at http://www.dhs.cahwnet.gov/childlead/. The California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch can also be reached at (510) 622-5000 for a list of these programs.

Consumers in possession of Chaca Chaca candy should dispose of the product or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. The public is encouraged to report any sellers of the candy by calling CDHS' Services Complaint Hotline at 1-800-495-3232.

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