The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials have been investigating a cluster of illnesses associated with Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Mexican Flavor sold in 5 and 25-pound bags. Mars Foodservices is recalling all bags and all lot numbers of its Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice products produced in 2013. These products are sold to food service companies that typically distribute to restaurants, schools, hospitals, and other commercial establishments. Although this product is not typically marketed to individual consumers, it may be available over the Internet through Amazon and at warehouse-type retailers such as Sam’s Club.
The FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network (CORE) was notified of a cluster of illnesses at three public schools in Katy, Texas. Thirty-four students and four teachers experienced burning, itching rashes, headaches, and nausea for 30 to 90 minutes, before the symptoms went away. Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Mexican Flavor with the lot number 351EKGRV01, made by Mars Foodservices of Greenville, Mississippi, was the common food item eaten by ill students.
The Illinois Department of Public Health notified the CDC of 25 children with similar skin reactions following a school lunch that served an Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice product. North Dakota reported a similar incident. Three children in a daycare and one college student experienced flushing reactions 45 minutes after consuming an Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice product.
The symptoms associated with this illness include a red burning/itching rash, headache, nausea, and flushness of the skin. The symptoms appear very shortly after consuming the rice product and pass within 30 to 90 minutes. People of any age can experience symptoms. The illnesses in Texas included people of different ages including children and adults.
Uncle Ben’s Brand Ready to Heat, Boxed, Bag or Cup products sold at grocery stores and other retail outlets are not being recalled. Investigation into this outbreak continues.
See the FDA Announcement
See the Recall
See also Medical Law Perspectives, July 2012 Report: Foodborne Illness: When Grabbing a Bite Can Be Deadly