The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has discovered elevated levels of lead in six brands of ground cinnamon spice, prompting the agency to advise consumers to discard the products and urge manufacturers to voluntarily recall the affected items. The contaminated cinnamon brands, sold under the names Marcum, MK, La Fiesta, Swad, Supreme Tradition, and El Chilar, are typically found at discount retailers such as Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Patel Brothers, and Save A Lot.

According to the FDA's advisory issued on Wednesday, the six brands of ground cinnamon contained lead at levels potentially unsafe for people, especially if they have prolonged exposure. The agency has recommended voluntary recalls of the cinnamon brands, but one manufacturer, MTCI, the distributor of MK cinnamon, has not responded to the agency's correspondence.

"Removing the ground cinnamon products in this alert from the market will prevent them from contributing elevated amounts of lead to the diets of children," the FDA said in a statement.

Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores have already taken action by removing the contaminated cinnamon from their store shelves, and customers can return the products for a refund, according to a spokesperson for the companies.

The recall comes months after the FDA announced a voluntary recall of three applesauce brands by WanaBana USA due to reports of elevated levels of lead. The contamination was linked to applesauce pouches produced in Ecuador and sold in U.S. supermarkets, on Amazon, and in stores like the Dollar Tree. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 468 cases across 44 states in February, which were discovered after routine blood screenings of children showed a spike in blood lead levels.

The applesauce recall prompted FDA officials to launch a "targeted survey" of cinnamon products sold in discount stores, leading to the discovery of lead contamination in the six brands of ground cinnamon.

Lead is a neurotoxin, and there is scientific consensus that there's no safe level of lead in humans, especially in young children. Long-term exposure to high levels of lead can lead to slower development, brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, and hearing and speech problems in children. Adults can experience similar impacts, but at much higher amounts of lead, according to the CDC.

While the FDA monitors foods for lead levels, the U.S. government does not currently limit these levels in products. The agency has advised consumers to discard the affected cinnamon products, which include specific lot numbers and best-by dates for each brand.

The contaminated cinnamon brands and their respective lot numbers or best-by dates are as follows:

  • La Fiesta brand, lot number 25033, sold at La Superior Supermercados
  • Marcum brand, best by dates Oct. 16, 2025, and April 6, 2025, sold at Save A Lot
  • MK brand, no lot number provided
  • Swad brand, lot number KX21223, sold at Patel Brothers
  • Supreme Tradition brand, best by dates include Sep. 29, 2025; April 17, 2025; Dec. 19, 2025; April 12, 2025; Aug. 24, 2025; April 21, 2025; and Sep. 22, 2025, sold at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar
  • El Chilar brand, lot numbers F275EX1026 and D300EX1024, sold at La Joya Morelense in Baltimore

As the FDA continues its investigation into the lead contamination in ground cinnamon products, consumers are urged to remain vigilant and prioritize their health by discarding any affected items. The agency's ongoing efforts to monitor and address lead contamination in food products underscore the importance of food safety and the need for manufacturers to adhere to stringent quality control measures to protect public health.