American Licorice Company has voluntarily recalled all of its 1 pound bags of black licorice with a “best by” date of February 14, 2013 following testing by California health officials which found elevated levels of lead. The testing revelead that black licorice candy could have as much lead as 0.33 parts per million (ppm), resulting in a dose of up to 13.2 micrograms of lead per serving.
For reference, the California Department of Public Health states that the recommendation is that children under 6 years of age consume no more than 6.0 micrograms of lead per day, and the level for which a Proposition 65 warning is required is 0.5 micrograms per day for lead as a reproductive toxicant.
Lead is toxic. Mild lead poisoning is associated with hyperactivity, irritability, sleeplessness, lack of concentration, behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Persistent neurological impairment can follow even mild episodes of lead poisoning. More information is available on this website and also at the California Department of Public Health.
Consumers can return the bags to the retailer from which they were purchased for a full refund.
So far, no explanation for why this batch of candy had elevated levels of lead. The company indicates that “[s]afety is the number one priority for [the] company.”