In addition to children’s shoes, cheap jewelry, and lipstick, we can now add Red Vines Black Licorice Twists to the list of things that inexplicably contain lead. The candy was recalled today when California health officials found that the licorice tested positive for high levels of the potentially deadly toxin.
As much as two times the daily limit of lead was found in the Red Vines, which the California Department of Public Health tested.
Apparently, though, lead isn’t an ingredient that’s used regularly to give the candy that old-timey flavor. According to the American Licorice Company (which is a real thing), only some lots of their one-pound bags are impacted. They have been recalled, and the company promises a full refund for consumers who may be in possession of tainted goods.
But California’s Department of Public Health is warning consumers not to take any chances. That’s because, unlike federal governing bodies, which tend to be kind of lenient, the state of California is pretty strict about lead exposure. Which is important, because lead exposure may be seriously hazardous to children.
Lead poisoning–particularly in children under six years old–is pretty scary, because it doesn’t present with clear symtoms like other illnesses. In fact, lead poisoning almost always looks like something else. Learning disabilities, trouble concentrating, sleeplessness, and behavioral problems are all linked to this serious ailment. Of course, I don’t know a single child who would willingly eat black licorice, but that’s beside the point.
Pregnant women, too, are warned about lead exposure. Prenatal lead exposure can be extremely harmful to developing fetuses and, much like in young children, may not be suspected as the cause of problems. Women who think they may have been exposed to lead to should seek medical attention and request a test for lead levels.
The sample where the lead was found is marked with a “Best Buy” date of Feb. 2013 (apparently, neither licorice nor lead go bad very quickly), which means that, while no incidents of illness have been found yet, there may be some unpleasant surprises in the future. Retailers and merchants are asked to remove any and all Red Vines black licorice candy from their shelves.
Incidentally, lead isn’t the only ingredient in Red Vines black licorice that’s been under scrutiny of late. It seems that the anise-flavored candy also contains ”caramel coloring,” a blanket term for a sometimes-carcinogenic additive that recently got Pepsi and Coca-Cola in trouble, and prompted a change of ingredients.