Days after an alert from county officials and a recall notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the California health department warned consumers not to drink herbal tea from U.S. Deer Antlers Exports and Imports Inc. out of concerns with Clostridium botulinum contamination.
The California Department of Public Health has been probing two potential cases of botulism, which may lead to serious illness or death, in Orange County residents. Both of the individuals consumed the company’s liquid teas back in March.
Previously, the Los Angeles-based company voluntarily recalled all of its herbal tea products that come in plastic pouches. The 6-by-4 inch pouches display Korean labeling and do not include lot codes as well as Best By dates.
“The [teas], especially those with low-acidity held at room temperature, were not produced according to approved guideline, making them susceptible to contamination by Clostridium botulinum,” noted the FDA in its recall announcement.
The herbal teas were distributed to individual buyers as well as acupuncturists located in California, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Texas.
Botulism Symptoms And Handling Of Affected Products
Botulinum symptoms usually start with blurred or double vision, shortly followed by difficulty in speaking or swallowing. It may also progress to muscle weakness starting from the upper body and moving downward.
Botulism can also result in potentially fatal paralysis of one’s breathing muscles, which then requires ventilator support and intensive medical care. Those going through the said symptoms and have recently consumed the herbal teas are advised to seek urgent medical attention.
The CDPH added that the toxin is odorless and colorless, making it difficult to determine if a specific product is contaminated. Thus, the products are recommended to be discarded immediately through double-bagging the pouch into tightly-closed plastic bags, and then putting them inside non-recyclable trash bins outside the house.
It’s suggested that one wear rubber or latex gloves when handling likely contaminated objects, and washes his or her hands with soap and running water for two minutes at a minimum.
In its ongoing cooperation with California authorities, U.S. Deer Antler Exports and Imports Inc. also rapidly segregated its complete inventory of Herbal Tea varieties, as well as notified customers not to consume potentially laced products.
Customers who purchased may return their unconsumed product to the original place of purchase, and may report unlawful sale of the affected goods to the CDPH at (800) 495-3232 or www.cdph.ca.gov.
Other Recent Food Recalls
The U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA also recently recalled Marcho Farms meat products available in several states because of potential E. coli contamination.
The Class I recall — a health hazard that could cause serious adverse health effects — was made to include several meat products that tested positive for the presence of non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.
The FDA also announced the voluntary pullout of select items from the Aunt Jemima frozen breakfast products of Pinnacle Foods because of traces of Listeria monocytogenes detected in the products’ plant environment.
Pinnacle Foods said that they issued the nationwide recall as a preventive measure, and that no consumer has reported any illness in connection with their products yet.