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Food Safety and Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700

News and Information


    Washington, October 9, 1998--The H. J. Heinz Co., a Pittsburgh-based food processing firm, is voluntarily recalling one day’s production of its vegetable chicken baby food because the product may contain elevated concentrations of lead, the U. S. Department of Agriculture announced today.

    All 4-oz. jars of "Heinz Building Block 2 Vegetable Chicken Dinner" (baby food) with a code beginning with "P3117WB" are being recalled. "P-51" appears inside the USDA inspection seal on the product label. The product was distributed to retail food stores nationwide.

    "Because of the potential public health risk associated with exposure to elevated concentrations of lead, especially in young children, we urge consumers who have purchased the suspect product to return it to the place of purchase," said Thomas J. Billy, administrator of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. USDA is informing the public so consumers who may have purchased this product can check their cupboards. Parents whose children have consumed this product regularly for several weeks and are concerned should contact their pediatricians.

    The problem was discovered by the Food and Drug Administration in the course of conducting its Market Basket Survey. Jars tested in the day’s production contained 20-22 micrograms of lead per 4-ounce jar. According to FDA, children from 6-11 months receive, on a daily basis, an average of 4.1 micrograms of lead from food, and children from 12 months to 2 years receive on a daily basis an average of 5.3 micrograms of lead from food. Children and adults are exposed to low levels of lead from food and other sources every day.

    Immediately after being notified by FDA of the results, FSIS--which regulates meat and poultry products--worked with the company to initiate the product recall.

    Consumers with questions about the recall may phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555. The hotline can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Consumers may also wish to call the Heinz Consumer Hotline at 1-800-782-8408.