Lincolnton-based Lucky Country, a manufacturer of soft gourmet licorice, has announced a recall of one lot of the candy due to elevated levels of lead found in the product following a recent analysis, but reassures local customers that its distributors in North Carolina aren’t affected.
The manufacturer, located in the Lincoln County Industrial Park, is recalling “Lot A3057 of Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Gourmet Black Licorice with Natural Ingredients” from Costco and Smart & Final stores located in California, Arizona and Utah, according to a company press release.
The affected licorice is packaged in a 1.5-pound gusset bag that is red, white and black in color and has a zipper.
Testing of the candy, performed by the California Department of Public Health, found that it contained lead levels as high as 0.18 parts per million, which could provide up to 7.2 micrograms of lead per serving, the release noted.
Lucky Country is voluntarily recalling the licorice from all Costco and Smart & Final stores in the affected states.
“Consumers in possession of this lot should not eat the candy and should return the candy to the place of purchase for a full refund,” the release stated.
The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
According to previous Times-News reports, the company faced a similar recall in 2008 — also due to unacceptable levels of lead in the candy — though that recall was more widespread, affecting 16 states.
Donald McLearn, company spokesman, said health officials gear the lead standards toward children under the age of 6.
The molasses ingredient in the black licorice contains some lead naturally, he explained.
The company, McLearn said, is erring on the side of caution and takes product safety very seriously.
Lucky Country products are manufactured entirely at the Lincolnton plant and are sold at various retailers throughout the United States and in some locations overseas.
In North Carolina, the brand can be found at Harris Teeter, Jacksons Emporium and Safeway stores, according to the company website.
Consumers with questions can contact the company at email@example.com or (828) 428-8313 during business hours.