By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Licorice fans may find fewer choices on store shelves after Red Vines announced a voluntary recall last month of some of its products.
The recall applies to all of the company’s black licorice products, including Mixed Bites, Family Mix and Snaps. It started Aug. 23, the day after a batch of black licorice produced in California was found to have trace amounts of lead, said Mike Kelly, spokesman for the American Licorice Co., which produces Red Vines.
The state Department of Health said Wednesday that no illnesses have been reported in Hawaii.
The contaminated batch had 0.33 parts per million of lead, above the recommended level of 0.1 ppm. It’s unclear how it was contaminated.
Kelly noted that the health guidelines for candy are particularly stringent due to the likelihood of it being ingested by children.
DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said lead can cause damage to nervous systems, though that is typically caused by exposure “over a long period of time.”
Kelly said Red Vines customers in Hawaii — Costco, CVS Pharmacy, Foodland, Target, Safeway, Walgreens and Walmart — were notified of the recall.
Cheryl Toda, Foodland spokeswoman, said the company removed the product from its shelves Tuesday.
“We got the news and removed it,” she said.
Some small groceries buy the product through wholesalers, and Kelly said those companies are being asked to notify their customers.
Bonny Kakos of Hilo Garden Mart said she hadn’t heard of the voluntary recall, but noted the store had already sold out of its Red Vines’ black licorice.
Kakos said the product is usually a slow seller, with customers opting for the more popular red version. The store last bought black licorice at the start of the year, she said.
“I personally love black licorice,” Kakos said. “It’s just a preference in taste.”
The company has not said when it plans to restart distribution of the product.
Kelly said it is using an “abundance of caution.”
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.