Rice Recall: Uncle Ben's Rice Is Making Children Sick


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Some products created under the "Uncle Ben's" logo have been recalled due to unhealthy reactions in school children and teachers. The rice being recalled includes 5 lb and 25 lb bags of infused rice, which is not generally sold in grocery stores or supermarkets.

Mars Foodservices is the company that produces the affected products, which are usually sold through wholesale distributors for use by restaurants, schools, hospitals and other commercial establishments.

The company stated that the Uncle Ben's products it is recalling consist of flavored rice, and this happened after people developed flushing and rashes after eating one of the rice varieties. The company said it found out last week that children at three Houston schools had "experienced allergic-like symptoms of mild flushing and rash" after eating Uncle Ben's Mexican Flavor Infused Rice.

More accurately, 34 students and four teachers at three public schools in Katy, Texas reported burning, itching rashes, headaches and nausea for 30 to 90 minutes on Friday before the symptoms went away, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said. The students had all eaten Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice, Mexican Flavor.

In early December, Illinois reported similar reactions among 25 students who had eaten Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Product, and North Dakota authorities reported another similar incident when four people had reactions after eating the product.

When the company learned of the illnesses, they began recalling all of their infused rice products from suppliers.

"Our network of distributors, brokers, and sales associates immediately started notifying their customers and collecting the product," Mars Foodservices said.

However, the company discovered during their blanket recall, that "a limited amount" of the rice is on sale through websites and at some wholesale stores.

"Therefore, we initiated the voluntary recall to ensure that anyone in possession of the product is aware that it should not be served or eaten, but returned to where it was purchased," Mars Foodservices said.

The company said it is "continuing to work closely" with the FDA to investigate the matter.

Besides the Mexican flavor which was the cause of most of the illnesses, Uncle Ben's infused rice comes in other flavors such as roasted chicken, pilaf, saffron, cheese, Spanish and garlic and butter varieties.

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