Peanut-Contaminated Cumin Leads to Massive Allergy Recall

in Food Allergy
Published: January 22, 2015

Newer article – Inside the Cumin Product Recalls – is here.
The chart of products recalled for peanut contamination was updated April 7, 2015.

WHAT started as a single company recalling spice products due to the undeclared presence of peanut in cumin has snowballed into the most widespread series of allergy-related recalls since the U.S. Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) came into effect in 2006.

Hundreds of products produced by dozens of companies are affected, so it’s essential for those dealing with peanut allergies to become aware of the situation and to check to see whether products they purchased are among the recalls (see links below).

Aside from spice mixes, hummus and even bread crumbs, the USDA tells Allergic Living that nearly 600,000 pounds of seasoned beef, poultry and pork products have been pulled off the market. A single Pennsylvania company recalled more than 35,000 pounds of its chili products. Another company recalled more than 500 of its spice products from shelves nationwide. The common culprit ingredient in all cases is the peanut-contaminated cumin.

This blitz of peanut-related recalls began* at the end of 2014 when Adams Flavors, Foods and Ingredients, a Texas company, issued a voluntary recall for several of its spice products after being notified by one of its suppliers that the cumin it purchased was contaminated with undeclared peanut proteins. [*Update: These recalls technically began with a Reily Foods recall in December for both peanut and almond spice contamination, but the Adams recall was the first of the numerous peanut-only ones.]

Since then, a huge number of cumin-related recalls have been issued by several companies, both in the Texas area and nationwide. From the beginning of 2015, the number of companies issuing tainted cumin-related recalls has expanded into the double-digits, and continues to rise; a trickle-down effect as news of the potential contamination makes its way through the supply chain.

“We were notified by our supplier, after theirs notified them,” says Jim English, president of Campos Foods in Tennessee, a company that recalled 5,300 pounds of chicken products due to peanut-contaminated cumin. At the time of this article, his company was in the process of sorting out the total cost involved but, for several companies, the recall losses will be huge.

English believes the only way to prevent similar occurrences in the future is greatly increased awareness on all levels of the food supply chain.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has so far recalled one product because of the same issue – Morningstar Farms black bean burgers. CFIA told Allergic Living that it continues to monitor the contaminated cumin situation. If you are in Canada, check the CFIA’s recalls page for the most up-to-date information.

(Three Canadian brands also recalled similar products in fall 2014 for peanut and almond contamination: taco seasoning, taco sauce and curry powder – all very likely to contain cumin. Despite the similarity, CFIA says that, at this point, there has not been any link established to the current U.S. situation.)

The massive series of recalls across the U.S. is a source of anxiety and great concern to anyone managing a peanut allergy. The following questions and answers are designed to help address reader questions and concerns.

Do all of the recalled cumin and cumin-containing spices come from the same source?

Not all, but some. Several were tied directly to the Adams Flavors recall, but the USDA told Allergic Living that they do not all stem from the same supplier. However, many of the recalled products do seem to follow a pattern of being sold towards the end of 2014 or in early 2015.

How did the contamination occur?

[See our updated article here.] It’s not known for certain yet, but in at least some cases it appears to have happened overseas, during handling and processing in the product’s originating country. An FDA spokesperson told Allergic Living that its investigation into the case is continuing, so expect more details to become available.

Have there been any fatal allergic reactions?

Thankfully, there have been no deaths. For news related to reports of allergic reactions to these products, see our updated article here. If you or an allergic family member may have had a reaction to a food that likely contained cumin, it is important that you report it to your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.

I have a peanut allergy. Should I avoid cumin and products seasoned with it for the foreseeable future?

As of February 2015, for those with peanut allergy, the FDA is recommending avoidance of products that contain ground cumin or cumin spice. If this is an issue, you could also contact the manufacturer of a suspect food to check whether it or any of its suppliers were included in one of the recalls. (See also: How to Find Safe Spiced Foods). Representatives of both the FDA and USDA have told Allergic Living that it’s likely even more products will be recalled in the near future due to peanut-contaminated cumin.

Important Note: It’s also most important to take into consideration that, under U.S. labeling rules, individual spices don’t have to be declared, so just because a product’s ingredients list doesn’t specifically mention “cumin”, it doesn’t mean cumin isn’t present. It may be hidden behind words like “spices” or “flavor”. In addition, cumin is part of many spice blends such as chili powder and curry, making its presence possible in a very wide variety of foods.

Consumers with peanut allergy who are concerned about the recalls should exercise caution and be aware that cumin is likely to be present in Tex-Mex and Indian foods.

For more details on products affected by the recalls, including lot numbers and label photos, see the chart below. For the latest information, be sure to check the official FDA and USDA recalls pages.

FDA main recalls page
USDA FSIS Main Recalls page

Company Name

Key Brands

Product Type Recalled

Adams Flavors, Foods and Ingredients Adams products, and Earl Campbell Spices and seasonings
Adams Flavors, Foods and Ingredients Private Selection Bread crumbs
Agri Star Meat & Poultry Aaron’s Best Beef franks
Aleias Gluten Free Foods, LLC Aleias Gluten Free Croutons
B&G Foods* Ortega, and Las Palmas Taco spices, kits and sauces
B&M, Inc. Target Archer Farms, and The Fresh Market, Spices and seasonings
Badia Spices, Inc Badia Ground Cumin
Best Foods, Inc Deer Ground Cumin
Bon Appetizers, LLC Cuisine Innovations, Ridgecrest and Culinary Secrets Chicken Products
Buffalo Provisions Brooklyn Cured, El Casero, and La Centro Americana Chicken chorizo
Campos Foods Rockin’ Roasted Chicken
Clemens Food Group Hatfield Pork ribs
Con Yeager Spice Company Numerous brands including Burning Asphalt Sauces, Naser Foods, Shop N Save, Trader Horn and more. Click for full list. Spice and seasonings
Condies Food Inc. Condies Foods, Dr. J’s Salsas
Daniel Weaver Company Yörük Brand Beef sausage
Franklin Farms Franklin Farms Veggie burgers
Fresh Food Manufacturing Co. Giant Eagle Market District, and Good Cents Chili
Garcia Foods Hill Country Fare Pork sausage
Garden Lites Garden Lites, and Classic Cooking Veggie products
Goya Foods Inc. Goya, and Kirby Brand Black bean products
Hausman Foods Hausman Foods Beef and pork
HEB Meat Center HEB Meats Pork
Heywood’s Meat Haus & Provision Co. Heywood’s Provision Company Pork shoulder
Holiday Foods Holiday Foods Beef, chicken and pork products
Jardine Foods D.L.Jardines, Shotgun Willie’s Chili Mix
J&B Sausage Co. Cajun Hollar Brand Chicken
J&B Sausage Co. Various “Fully Cooked” products and more. Click for product labels. Beef and chicken
Kabob’s Acquisition, Inc. Kabobs Beef & chicken
La Flor Products Co. La Flor Ground cumin
Maya Overseas Food, Inc Maya Overseas Food Cumin powder
MorningStar Farms MorningStar Black bean burgers
Morrison Meat Packers Vida Latina, El Toro Cooked pork products
NAC Foods Co. Mimi’s Products, and Rosa Maria Ground cumin
Reily Foods* Carroll Shelby, and Wick Fowler brands Chili seasoning
REO Spice & Seasoning, Inc. REO Country Style Chili seasoning
Sentry Food Solutions Sabor Latino Beef & chicken
Shirk’s Meats Shirk’s Meats Pork sausage
Spice N’More Casablanca, Salma, Spice Class, La Mina, Leader Meret, All Island Spice, Key Food, and H Harvest Cumin powder
Taj Ethnic Gourmet Taj Ethnic Gourmet Spices and seasonings
TEN BC LLC Tommy’s Superfoods Santa Fe Rice
The Spice Mill The Spice Mill Chef’s Choice Ground cumin and seasoning
US Foods US Foods Beef fajita strips
Whole Foods Market Numerous items prepared with a supplier’s peanut-contaminated ground cumin spice. Click for full list. Multiple food, meat and spice products
Zenobia Company LLC My Spice Sage Ground cumin
Zilk’s Foods LLC Zilks Hummus products

*These are part of an earlier recall for peanut and almond contamination in cumin spice. One official said it does not appear to be part of the same series of cumin recalls, but be aware of those recalled items too.