The American Licorice Company has recalled one-pound packages of Red Vines Black Licorice Twists, which were found to contain high levels of lead.
The Union City, Calif.-based company issued the voluntary recall Wednesday after the state Department of Public Health warned consumers to toss the contaminated candies.
The licorice "contained as much as 0.33 parts per million of lead," according to a statement on the department's website. "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."
The recall only affects 16-ounce bags of Red Vines Black Licorice Twists with the best before date "020413." The date is printed on the back of the package.
"We sincerely apologize to any consumers affected by this recall," the company said in a statement on its website. "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."
The number of recalled packages is unknown, according to a company spokesman. An internal investigation into how the licorice became contaminated is underway.
Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in children. And in pregnant women, the metal can harm the fetus and increase the risk of miscarriage.
Pregnant women and parents of children who may have eaten the licorice should consult a doctor to determine if medical testing is needed, according to the Department of Public Health.