Spice Recall Expands to Pepper

Product could be contaminated with salmonella

 A recall of Union International Food Company spices after a recent salmonella outbreak has been widened to include pepper sold at retail stores under the Uncle Chen product name, the state said.

White and black pepper products from the company's Union City facility in the Bay Area have been associated with an outbreak that has sickened 42 people in four states, including 33 in California. No deaths have been reported, the California Department of Public Health added.

Illnesses among California residents have occurred in 15 counties in the central and north part of the state.

The products include four varieties of pepper: whole and ground Uncle Chen's White Pepper and whole and ground Uncle Chen's Black Pepper. All four products are in 5-ounce containers.

The spices were sold at retailers throughout the Bay Area.

Union International Food Company earlier initiated a voluntary recall of the retail pepper products as well as other pepper and spice products repackaged in its facility. The state said the latest known onset of illness occurred earlier this month.

A high proportion of those who have become sick had eaten at Asian restaurants which were found by environmental health specialists to be using black and/or white pepper purchased from Union International Food Company, the state said. The products in those cases were packaged under the Lian How brand name (red label) in various sized containers (10- and 15-pound cardboard boxes with plastic liners that are tied-closed, 4- and 5-pound clear semi-hard plastic wide-mouth jars; 5-pound plastic bags and 2.2-pound foil bags).

Following the Lian How brand name, the wording "Packed by Union International Foods" or "Union International Foods' appears. The following products were earlier included in the recall:

  • white pepper
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika
  • chopped onion
  • onion powder
  • garlic – chopped, minced, powder and granulated
  • whole white pepper
  • whole black pepper
  • curry powder
  • mustard powder
  • wasabi powder

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in infants, frail or elderly individuals and others with weakened immune systems, the state said. Healthy people infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses. Consumers should consult with their physicians if they have these symptoms, the state added.

Consumers with questions may contact Union International Food Company at 510-471-6799.

This report originally appeared on KCRA.

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