The California maker of Red Vines issued a voluntary recall of its Black Licorice Twists this week after the state's Department of Public Health warned of high levels of lead – more than double the amount deemed healthy for children.
The agency said 16-ounce bags of the candy, with the label "Best Before 020413," were affected. Testing found that the packages, produced by Union City-based American Licorice Co., contained as much as 0.33 parts per million of lead, or 13.2 micrograms per serving.
Children younger than 6 should not consumer more than 6 micrograms per day.
Customers should discard and avoid eating the candy, the health department said. Pregnant women and parents of children who consumed the product should ask physicians or healthcare providers about potential medical testing.
In children, even low levels of lead "have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The licorice, along with all candy produced by the company, is made in manufacturing facilities in Union City and La Porte, Ind. American Licorice said it "sincerely" apologized to affected customers and urged those with questions to call its service line at (866) 442-2783.
"Safety is the number one priority for our company," the company said on its website. "We are taking every possible precautionary step to make this situation right, including working diligently with our retailers and public health officials in an effort to keep all Red Vines consumers as safe as possible."