Red Vines, Or Are They Lead Vines?

Hold the black licorice!

The American Licorice Company issued a voluntary recall of its Black Licorice Twists this week after California’s Department of Public Health warned of high levels of lead – more than double the amount deemed healthy for children.

A few days ago I wrote here about the insidious nature of sugar, which can appear in almost any kind of processed food.

But lead?

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.

How did so much lead get into this licorice? Indeed, why is there any lead in candy?

The agency said 16-ounce bags of the candy, with the label “Best Before 020413,”  produced by Union City-based American Licorice Co., were affected.

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.

Now I am feeling guilty, since I often keep red vines in my classroom. It’s not the licorice kind, but who knows? Have I been poisoning my students?

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(CDC).

According to the CDC, lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, but often goes unrecognized because there are no obvious symptoms. They estimate that half a million U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 4 have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, likely from lead-based paints which may be found in houses built before 1978 before they were banned.

How is American Licorice responding? The company 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.”

How about keeping those consumers safe by not putting lead in their candy?

What do you think?

Related Stories

8 Tips For Going Sugar-Free

Farmers Serving Candy To Their Cows

Should Milk Be Taken Off The School Menu?


Photo Credit: Candy Critic

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Julie W.
Jules W.3 years ago

Thanks for the share!

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you :)

Huber F.
Huber F.3 years ago


Seda A.
Seda A.3 years ago

thank you

Michael Kirkby
Michael Kirkby3 years ago

I never liked the stuff anyway. There was something about the taste. I do however like anise and use it a lot in cooking.

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N.3 years ago

One bit of phrasing took me back a bit - NO amount of lead is 'healthy for children' or anyone else, lol.

I don't know about now, but the EPA tolerances were supposed to be for levels of toxic substances that were claimed to kill/sicken only one in a certain number of people, I think winding up at 1 in 100,000 in often industry-influenced estimates.

Of course, we're subjected to hundreds of thousands of toxic or potentially toxic industry-produced substances, with often unknown degrees of dysfunction/disease/damage resulting, so it's a wonder that anyone survives to adulthood, lol.

But it's OK as long as we realize that it's really our own choices or lousy genetics responsible for our otherwise mysteriously ever-rising ills, not the billions of tons of industrial toxins pumped out annually into our food, soil, water, air, and pharma meds.

I am SO glad that I have no children!

Paula L.
Paula L.3 years ago

Chalk one more food up that we grew up on and didn't know we were consuming lead. Oh, or maybe we were not consuming lead back then. Maybe they just started adding it to produce more weight for $$$$$ when EVERYTHING started being sold by package weight. Yes? or No?

Brandy Kathavong
Brandy K.3 years ago

I never liked licorice..they just tasted so weird and artificial.

Seda A.
Seda A.3 years ago


Roger M.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for posting this.