To our Natural Vines® Consumers,
Today we are announcing a voluntary recall of our Natural Vines® Black Licorice product due to the potential of elevated levels of lead. Only Natural Vines® Black Licorice with date codes of 010413 through 041913 are affected by this recall. The date code is located on the back of the package on a white sticker.
After testing lots of Natural Vines Black Licorice made in the last year for lead, some batches showed slightly elevated levels of lead above the recommend maximum levels for young children. We are working closely with the FDA and our retail partners to retrieve as much of the affected product as possible.
If you wish to learn more about lead in food products, please visit the informational sites from the FDA and the California Department of Public health below:
We sincerely apologize to any consumers affected by this recall. Safety is our top priority at American Licorice and we appreciate your patience and support as we work to make this situation right. We will continue to update this site as we learn more.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the recall. If you have questions or concerns, please call our Consumer Response line at 866-442-2783.
–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 Natural Vines® Black Licorice products with date codes ranging from 010413 through 041913.
2. Is the Natural Vines® Strawberry flavor also affected?
a. No. The Strawberry flavor is not affected and is not being recalled.
3. How do I know if my package was among those being recalled?
a. Every bag of Natural Vines® has a small white sticker on the back of the package with a “best before date.” If your package has a date code from 010413 (January 4, 2013) through 041913 (April 19, 2013) it is included in the recall. If the date code does not fall into that range, it is NOT included in the recall.
4. Where can I find the date code on my package?
a. The date code is located on the back of the package on a white sticker (see above image for reference).
5. Why are these products being recalled?
a. These products are being recalled because test results for samples of Natural Vines® Black Licorice, within a specific date range, indicated elevated levels of lead that are slightly above the FDA recommended maximum level for candy that is likely to be consumed frequently by young children.
6. What is the allowable limit for lead in candy?
a. According to the FDA, the recommended maximum level of lead in candies that are likely to be frequently consumed by young children is 0.1 parts per million (ppm, “ppm” is the same as micrograms per gram (μg /g)). The FDA’s recommended total daily tolerance level for lead consumption, from all sources, is 6 micrograms per day (μg/day) for children under 6 years of age. This level is referred to as the FDA’s daily Provisional Total Tolerable Intake Level (PTTIL).
7. How much lead was in the candy?
a. When taking into account average consumption of the product, we believe the levels of lead shown in the test results for samples of Natural Vines® Black Licorice were below the FDA’s (PTTIL) tolerance limit for children under the age of six. Nevertheless, due to the elevated levels indicated by the test results, we have voluntarily recalled all candy made in this date range out of an abundance of caution.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Have you ever had a product recall before?
a. No. Over nearly 100 years of making candy, this is our first product recall.
11. What retailers are involved in the recall?
a. All retailers who carry Natural Vines® Black Licorice with product on their shelves in the specific date range of 010413 through 041913.
12. Where are your Natural Vines® products produced?
a. All of our products are produced in US-based manufacturing facilities in La Porte, IN.
13. 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.
14. Do you get ingredients from China?
a. We do not source any ingredients from China
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. When will your Natural Vines® Black Licorice be available for sale once again?
a. Our Natural Vines® 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.
20. 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.
21. 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 :
22. 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 Natural Vines® Black Licorice products made during this date range.
23. What should I do if I have some of the licorice that was recalled?
a. You should return any Natural Vines® Black Licorice products, with date codes ranging from 010413 through 041913, to your retailer for a full refund.
24. 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:
For more information about lead, you can contact your local public health departments.