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Illnesses traced to Uncle Ben's rice; Commercial-size packages recalled

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MONDAY, Feb. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Recent illness outbreaks at schools in three states have prompted the recall of 5- and 25-pound bags of Uncle Ben's Infused Rice products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday.

The agency was notified Feb. 7 that 34 students and four teachers at three public schools in Katy, Texas, had experienced burning and itching rashes, headaches and nausea for about 30 to 90 minutes after eating Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Mexican Flavor.

This followed a report received Dec. 4 about 25 children in Illinois who suffered similar skin reactions after eating a school lunch that included an Uncle Ben's Infused Rice product. The FDA got another report Oct. 30, this one from North Dakota, about three children in daycare and one college student who had reactions after eating one of the products.

The symptoms appear very shortly after consuming the rice product, the agency said.

The FDA is investigating the incidents. Consumers and food service companies should not use any Uncle Ben's Infused Rice products sold in 5- and 25-pound bags, the agency said in a news release Monday.

The products, made by Mars Foodservices of Greenville, Miss., are sold to food service companies that typically distribute them to schools, hospitals, restaurants and other institutional and commercial users. But they may be available to individual consumers over the Internet and at warehouse-type retailers, the FDA said.

Food service companies and consumers who have the products should not use them. Instead, throw them in the garbage or return them to the place of purchase, the FDA said.

The recall by Mars Foodservices covers all bags and lot numbers of its Uncle Ben's Infused Rice products produced in 2013: Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Roasted Chicken Flavor (5- and 25-pound packages); 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); and Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Spanish Flavor (25 pounds).

Uncle Ben's brand ready-to-heat, boxed, bag and cup products sold at supermarkets and other retailers are not being recalled.

The FDA said people of any age can experience symptoms after eating the recalled products. Anyone who has sudden nausea, headaches or a burning/itching rash after eating Uncle Ben's Infused Rice products should contact a health care provider, the agency said.

Consumers with questions about food safety can call the FDA at 1-888-723-3366 Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. eastern time, or go to the agency's website.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about food safety.

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