Uncle Ben's rice may be off the national menu for a while, as government officials investigate a series of illnesses associated with the popular brand's Infused Rice.
A number of the Uncle Ben variations produced by Mars Foodservices of Greenville, Mississippi are being recalled, and the federal consumption watchdog, the Food and Drug Administration, warned Monday against eating the "infused" versions of the rice brand after three separate illness incidents across the country.
The "infused" flavors of rice are typically only bought for use by restaurants, schools, hospitals and other commercial establishments. But the FDA warned the products may be available online and at warehouse-type retailers.
In the most recent incident, 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 said. The students had all eaten Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Mexican Flavor.
On Dec. 4, Illinois authorities 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.
Mars Foodservices is recalling Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Roasted Chicken, Garlic & Butter, Mexican, Pilaf, Saffron, Cheese and Spanish flavors as a result of the incidents, and officials have warned people not to eat any of the company's infused rice products sold in 5- and 25-pound bags.