Greetings Red Vines Fans,
We need to update you around the recall of our black licorice products. We’ve decided to expand the recall to include all black licorice products, including our Mixed Bites and Family Mix, as well as our Snaps product that has a black licorice core, surrounded by a candy shell.
The Mixed Bites and Family Mix are being recalled due to the black licorice in the package. Our Original Red Flavor products, and our Sugar Free products are NOT included in the recall.
Your safety is our primary concern and we’ve taken this drastic measure out of an abundance of caution to ensure that all American Licorice products are safe for anyone to consume.
We’ve reached out to all retailers who sell these products and asked them to remove the product from their shelves until we can be 100% certain that the candy out on store shelves meet our quality standards.
On 8/22, we were notified by the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) that they had detected trace amounts of lead in one batch of our black licorice (16 oz. Bags of Black Licorice Twists with “Best Before Date 020413” printed on the label) that exceeded the amount of lead that they deem safe for candy products.
At that time we issued a voluntary product recall of this batch of licorice and immediately launched an extensive internal investigation to get to the root of the issue, including additional testing of our raw ingredients, products, equipment and water lines, in an attempt to identify what caused the elevated levels of lead. Our testing suggests that slightly elevated levels of lead above the recommended maximum levels of lead for young children may also be found in some recent batches of Red Vines Black Licorice Twists, Family Mix, Mixed Bites and Snaps. No detectable lead was found in recent testing of Sugar Free Black Licorice.
We know that several of you will have questions about the expanded recall, so we’ve created an FAQ document with the facts we have available at this time.
We will update you here as more information becomes available. We appreciate your understanding and support as we work to correct the issue and will answer whatever questions we can here.
Thanks – American Licorice Co.
FAQ – Expanded Recall of Black Licorice Products and Snaps®
Consumer Response Hotline Number – 866-442-2783
1. What are you recalling?
a. We are issuing a voluntary national recall of all Red Vines® Black Licorice products, including Mixed Bites and Family Mix products, as well as Snaps®. However, our Sugar Free black licorice is NOT included in the recall.
2. Is the Original Red® flavor also affected?
a. No. The Original Red flavor is not affected and is not being recalled. Only our Black Licorice Products, Mixed Bites, Family Mix products, and Snaps® are included in the recall. Our Sugar Free black licorice is NOT included in the recall either.
3. What about Mixed Bites and the Family Mix products?
a. Family Mix and Mixed Bites are products that contain both black and red licorice in one bag. These are being included in the recall because they contain the black licorice that is affected.
4. Why are these products being recalled?
a. These products are being recalled because samples were tested and some were found to contain slightly elevated levels of lead that are above the FDA recommended maximum level for candy that is likely to be consumed frequently by young children.
5. What is the allowable limit for lead in candy?
a. According to the FDA, the recommended maximum level of lead in candies that are frequently consumed by young children is 0.1 parts per million (ppm).
6. How much lead did you find in your Black Licorice products?
a. The external tests from the California Dept. of Public Health found one batch of black licorice twists that measured 0.33 ppm, which is what we originally recalled on August 22, 2012. Our subsequent internal testing over the past week suggests that slightly elevated levels of lead above the recommended maximum levels of lead for young children may also be found in some recent batches of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists, Family Mix, Mixed Bites and Snaps®. No detectable lead was found in recent testing of Sugar Free Black Licorice.
7. Why is there lead in the product at all?
a. Lead is a naturally occurring element on the planet, and as such, traces of the element are present in many foods and beverages. The amounts present in most food and beverages, including our candy, are so small they have to be measured in parts per million. The FDA and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have guidelines about the maximum level of lead that is recommended in specific food and for overall consumption from all food. Below are links from the FDA and CDPH with more information on lead in candy products.
8. How did lead come to be in the candy?
a. We are investigating all possible causes of the lead contamination, including continued testing of our finished products, testing of our ingredients, testing of our manufacturing equipment and water lines, as well as working with our ingredients suppliers and internal quality assurance teams to get to the root of the issue and will be updating as we learn more from our findings.
9. Have you ever had a product recall before?
a. No. Over nearly 100 years of making candy, this is our first product recall.
10. What retailers are involved in the recall?
a. All retailers who carry Red Vines® Black Licorice, Family Mix, Mixed Bites, and Snaps®.
11. Where are your products produced?
a. All of our products are produced in our two US-based manufacturing facilities: Union City, CA and La Porte, IN.
12. Where are the ingredients from?
a. All of our ingredients are either sourced or reprocessed in the US by suppliers who are subject to FDA food regulations and guidelines.
13. Do you get ingredients from China?
a. We do not source any ingredients from China
14. What does “reprocessed in the US” mean in regards to ingredients?
a. Our ingredient suppliers source some raw materials from other countries and then re-process them at their US based plants to ensure that the end material being shipped to manufacturers like ourselves meet the stringent guidelines for product quality established by the FDA and other regulatory bodies.
15. Don’t you have a Quality Assurance team?
a. Yes…we have a quality assurance manager who oversees a team that performs regular testing of all raw ingredients and products being shipped out of our warehouses.
16. How often do they test the products and ingredients?
a. Our quality assurance team members perform daily quality tests while products are being produced and packaged.
17. If you have quality assurance teams and perform regular testing, how did American Licorice not know there were elevated levels of lead in the product?
a. While we require documentation from all ingredient suppliers at the time of delivery and perform regular quality checks on our products during production and before shipping, the majority of tests are focused on identifying microbiological issues.
18. When will your black licorice be available for sale once again?
a. Our black licorice products will again be available for purchase as soon as our investigation identifies the specific cause for the elevated levels of lead and we are able to confidently manufacture and deliver licorice that we know is safe.
19. How can you ensure that your future product will be safe?
a. In addition to identifying the specific source of the lead and working with our ingredient suppliers to ensure the integrity of the raw materials being shipped into our factory, our quality assurance teams will incorporate additional testing as necessary to ensure the continued safety of all of our products.
20. Who is most at risk for lead poisoning because of this contamination? Where can I learn more information about lead contamination?
a. According to the FDA, infants, children under the age of six, and pregnant women are the most at risk when it comes to consuming food with high levels of lead. Below are links to the CDPH and FDA websites for more information on lead in food products and where to be screened :
Contact Info: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/CLPPB/Pages/Contact-CLPPB.aspx
FDA Website: http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/foodcontaminantsadulteration/metals/lead/ucm172050.htm#healt
21. Why is lead not listed in the ingredients?
a. We would not list lead or other trace minerals/elements that are naturally found in our raw ingredients, as we don’t proactively put these into the product. Despite maintaining stringent guidelines around our ingredient suppliers and maintaining regular testing of our ingredients and products, in this instance amounts of lead were detected in some of our products that slightly exceeded FDA’s recommended maximum levels of lead in candies that are frequently consumed by young children, which is what prompted our voluntary recall of all Black Licorice products, including Red Vines® Mixed Bites and Red Vines® Family Mix products.
22. What should I do if I have some of the licorice that was recalled?
a. You should return any Red Vines® Black Licorice, Family Mix, Mixed Bites or Snaps® product to your place of purchase for a full refund.
23. What should I do if I’ve already consumed the candy?
a. Here are links to the California Department of Public Health website with more information on lead in food products, including where you could potentially get screened by a healthcare professional, if you choose to do so:
Contact Info: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/CLPPB/Pages/Contact-CLPPB.aspx
For more information about lead, you can contact your local public health departments.