Rice recall: Uncle Ben’s rice recall linked to school lunch illnesses

Rice recall: Uncle Ben's rice bags have been recalled after being linked to illnesses among children who ate the rice as part of school lunches. The rice recall includes 5- and 25-pound bags of Mexican-style rice. 

Courtesy of the FDA
Uncle Ben's rice recall includes 5- and 25-pound bags of the company's Mexican Infused Rice products, manufactured by Mars Food Services

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a recall of certain lots of Uncle Ben’s infused rice linked to a rash of illnesses among children in Texas.

The Uncle Ben’s recall includes all lots of the brand’s Infused Rice Mexican Flavor sold in 5- and 25 pound bags that may contain an increased amount of niacin, also known as Vitamin B3.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the FDA is warning food service companies and consumers not to use any Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice products sold in 5- and 25-pound bags,” read a statement posted on the FDA’s website Monday. “These products are sold to food service companies that typically distribute to restaurants, schools, hospitals and other commercial establishments… Food service companies and consumers who have purchased the products should not use the rice, and should return it to their point of purchase or dispose of it.”

The order extends to all lots of the product manufactured in 2013.

The recall followed an investigation by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) into complaints of illnesses from 34 students and four teachers at three public schools in Katy, Texas. Cited symptoms – often linked with large doses of niacin – included burning, itching rashes, headaches, and nausea that went away after 30 to 90 minutes. All were eventually linked to a batch of Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Mexican flavor with the lot number 351EKGRV01, manufactured by Mars Foodservices in Greenville, Miss.

This is the third such incident linked to the Uncle Ben’s rice product in the past few months. In December, the Illinois Department of Public Health contacted the CDC and reported similar symptoms among children who were served an Uncle Ben’s Infused rice product during school lunch. In October, North Dakota reported four children at a daycare and one college student who had skin reactions after eating the product.

The infused rice bags are not sold in typical retail grocery stores nor marketed to individual consumers. Other Uncle Ben’s products, including the brand’s Ready to Heat, Boxed, Bag or Cup products, are not being recalled. But the FDA warns that the infused rice bags could be available at warehouse stores or online.

The recalled products are listed below: 

  • UNCLE BEN’S INFUSED Rice Roasted Chicken Flavor (5- and 25-pounds)
  • UNCLE BEN’S INFUSED Rice Garlic & Butter Flavor (5-pounds)
  • UNCLE BEN’S INFUSED Rice Mexican Flavor (5- and 25-pounds)
  • UNCLE BEN’S INFUSED Rice Pilaf (5-pounds)
  • UNCLE BEN’S INFUSED Rice Saffron Flavor (5-pounds)
  • UNCLE BEN’S INFUSED Rice Cheese Flavor (5-pounds)
  • UNCLE BEN'S INFUSED Rice Spanish Flavor (25-pounds)

For additional information, visit the bulletin on the FDA’s recalls website, here.

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