Black licorice is as polarizing a candy as any, but it just got a whole lot more controversial. California health officials have found that a recent batch of Red Vines black licorice tested positive for elevated levels of lead.
The finding promoted a recall by the American Licorice Company, which owns Red Vines, of all one-pound bags of its black licorice with the "best by" date of Feb. 4, 2013.
The California Department of Public Health puts the amount of lead found into perspective on its website:
Recent analysis of this candy by CDPH determined that Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists candy ... contained as much as 0.33 parts per million of lead. This concentration of lead could provide up to 13.2 micrograms of lead per serving. Children under 6 years of age should not consume more than 6.0 micrograms of lead per day from all dietary sources.
ABC points out that lead can be toxic to developing organs and brain development, which makes it particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. No sickenings have yet been reported.
On its website, the American Licorice Company doesn't offer any explanations for how so much lead got into their product, but did stress that they were working to remedy the situation:
Safety is the number one priority for our company. 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.
Consumers are encouraged to bring their bags of black licorice back to the point of sale for a full refund.