Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today warned consumers not to eat Barrilito and Miguelito candies imported from Mexico after tests by CDPH found levels of lead that could cause health problems. Eating lead-contaminated candy is particularly harmful to infants, young children and pregnant women.
“Both short- and long-term exposure to lead can be toxic to humans, especially infants, young children and developing fetuses, and can result in learning, behavioral and other neurodevelopmental disabilities,” Horton said. “Today’s warning is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of foods sold in California.”
Barrilito and Miguelito candies were distributed by TJ Candy Corp. of Montebello, which has initiated a voluntary recall of the products and is working with CDPH to ensure that all products in commerce are promptly removed. CDPH is working to identify other California distributors that might sell these products.
Barrilito is a thick, dark brown syrup packaged in a clear glass jar with a white plastic cover and a small attached plastic spoon. Individual jars of Barrilito contain 100 grams or 3.3 ounces of candy. The label has a yellow background with the name “Barrilito” in yellow with red borders. The label also has a character picture of a brown barrel with a white smile, white hands and eyes and brown shoes. The glass jar measures about three and a half inches in height and is about an inch and a half around.
Miguelito candy is a reddish-orange powder containing a mixture of salt and sugar. The candy is packaged in a clear plastic packet containing 1.7 ounce. The clear plastic packet measures at two inches wide by two and a half inches long. The plastic packet is printed with the name Miguelito in large blue letters with a white background with a blue and white cupid holding a bow and arrow. There is a small circle with the letters “MR” placed under the product name. The words “Azucar Salada Enchilada Y Acidulada” appear in blue letters above the word Miguelito.
Recent analysis of the two candies by CDPH determined that Barrilito contained 0.15 parts per million (ppm) of lead and Miguelito contained 0.13 ppm of lead. California considers candies with lead levels in excess of 0.1 ppm adulterated. This level is consistent with the guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2006 on the recommended lead level of 0.1 ppm in candy products likely to be consumed by children.
Assembly Bill 121, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, provides additional resources for CDPH to test candy to ensure these products are not adulterated with lead and other contaminants.
Pregnant women and parents of children who may have consumed Miguelito or Barrilito candy should consult their physician or health care provider to determine if medical testing is needed. For more information about lead poisoning, consumers are advised to contact their local childhood lead poisoning prevention program or public health department. Additional information and a list of local childhood lead prevention programs are available at CDPH’s Web site at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Pages/CLPPBChildrenAtRisk.aspx
Consumers in possession of these candies should dispose of them. Consumers who find Miguelito or Barrilito candies for sale are encouraged to call the CDPH Complaint Hotline at 1-800-495-3232.