A recall has been issued for certain kinds of Uncle Ben's rice served at schools, hospitals, restaurants and other similar locations, following a series of outbreaks of sick children.
According to a report by the Associated Press, children in three states including Texas, Illinois and North Dakota became ill after eating the rice, with reactions including skin rashes. So far, the recall only affects rice sold to food service establishments, such as schools or day care centers. The first incident occurred in October, in North Dakota. Three children at a day care and a college student reported skin reactions after eating Uncle Ben's rice. A second incident was reported in December at a school in Illinois. The latest incident comes out of Katy, Texas:
The FDA said that 34 students and four teachers in Katy, Texas, had experienced burning, itching rashes, headaches and nausea for 30 to 90 minutes after eating the rice on Feb. 6. The symptoms eventually went away. The FDA said overexposure to niacin can cause skin reactions, and very large doses can cause indigestion and nausea. Children may be most susceptible, but the agency said that the levels of niacin found in the Illinois rice samples probably were not high enough to cause serious health consequences.
Mars Foodservices of Rancho Dominguez, California is now recalling 5- and 25-pound bags which were sold primarily to food service establishments. However, the products are available to consumers via the Internet.
The recalled products are the 5- and 25-pound bags of Uncle Ben's flavor-infused rice, including roasted chicken flavor, garlic and butter flavor, Mexican flavor, saffron flavor, cheese flavor, Spanish flavor and Uncle Ben's Rice Pilaf.
While Mars Foodservice has been working with the FDA and its buyers to get the rice out of lunch lines, agency officials said they are concerned that some consumers may be able to get the rice on the Internet or at warehouse-type retailers. As of Monday, several of the recalled products were still available on Amazon.com.
According to the AP's report, Uncle Ben's ready-to-eat products available in grocery stores have not been linked to any illnesses.
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