The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to foodservice businesses and consumers over Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Mexican Flavor sold in 5- and 25-pound bags. The product has been linked to cases of illness in Texas.
The product has been implicated in a recent cluster of illnesses at three public schools in Katy, Texas, where 34 students and four teachers suffered symptoms including burning, itching rashes, headaches and nausea. Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Mexican Flavor was the common food eaten by all the students affected.
Similar incidents were reported in December 2013 in Illinois, where 25 students suffered the same symptoms after a meal containing the rice, and in North Dakota in October 2013, where three children and one college student were affected.
The manufacturer of the rice, Mars Foodservices, is recalling all bags and lot numbers of Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice products produced in 2013. Nine products are included in the recall. Although they were only distributed to foodservice customers, it is thought that some might have been sold to consumers via the Internet and discount warehouse type retailers.
The cause of the symptoms reported after eating the recalled rice has not been confirmed, although some reports have suggested that it may be overly high levels of the B vitamin niacin. White rice is routinely fortified with niacin in the USA. An investigation into the incident is now in progress.
More information from the FDA can be found here.