Hundreds of products containing cumin are being pulled from stores because the spice may be contaminated with traces of peanuts, the Food and Drug Administration warns. The FDA says people with peanut allergies should avoid ground cumin, cumin powder and all products containing cumin.
Some shipments of the spice have tested positive for undeclared peanut protein, and people who are highly allergic or sensitive to peanuts may be at risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. The recall has been ongoing since December, as more and more products are identified. The first recall was December 26, when Texas-based Adams Foods recalled several of its cumin spices. On February 9, Whole Foods recalled more than 100 products. On February 13, Goya Foods recalled some brands of black beans and black bean soup.
Ground cumin may be sold as a spice, in a seasoning mix, or as a minor ingredient when used in finished food products like soups and chilis."Tex-Mex" and Indian dishes in particular may contain the spice. Most finished products are expected to have low amounts of ground cumin, and therefore low amounts of peanut protein, according to the FDA. Products made before 2014 are unlikely to contain the affected ground cumin.
Products such as soups or chiles that contain only small amounts of the affected ground cumin may not contain enough peanut protein to trigger a reaction in most peanut-allergic people, the FDA says. "However, people who are highly sensitive to peanuts may consider avoiding products that list 'cumin,'" the agency recommends in an alert on its website.
The agency has received at least eight reports from consumers related to the cumin recall. Among the recalled products are spice mixes, black beans, and meats with marinades or ingredients that include cumin (like sausage). The FDA has not provided any further details about how the cross-contamination happened or what the source of the cumin was. (We're going to take a wild guess and say it was probably imported, likely from a third world country.)
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The FDA is continuing to identify companies that received shipments of the ground cumin that contained undeclared peanuts and work with them to remove the products from the market. The FDA will continue to update its list of recalled products, which you can find here.
In the meantime, if you are looking for peanut-free cumin, 125-year-old Maryland-based McCormick & Company Inc. said it sources whole cumin seeds to ground its product and its spice products are not involved in the recall.