The California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, is warning residents in that state and several others not to use herbal teas made by a company called U.S. Deer Antlers Exports and Imports Inc. The problem, says the agency, is that the teas were “improperly processed” and could be contaminated with the bacterium that causes botulism.
In its press release about the recall CDPH disclosed that it was currently investigating 2 cases of botulism in people who report consuming the teas back in March.
The company, which is based in Los Angeles, is recalling its entire production run of herbal teas in plastic pouches. The packages, which you can see examples of below, are labeled in Korean but do not carry any lot numbers, best-by dates or any other production codes.
There is no word on how many of these herbal tea packets made it into consumers’ hands, but the company does say that individual consumers and acupuncturists in several states bought them. Those states include:
- North Carolina
If you still have any of this tea on hand you are urged to throw it out immediately. You should double-bag it in plastic bags that you’ve made sure to seal completely, advises the agency, and wear rubber gloves while doing so.
The main concern with botulism isn’t the bacterium itself but a toxin it produces. That toxin is both odorless and colorless, making it impossible for you to know if the food is contaminated. Early symptoms of botulism include:
- Double or blurred vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Dry or sore throat
Later on, victims of botulism may experience:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weakening of neck muscles
- Difficulty breathing
Of course, if you’ve consumed the recalled herbal teas and think you might be experiencing symptoms you should seek medical help immediately.
Botulism is rare in this country but can be life-threatening. A couple of years ago the U.S. experienced its largest outbreak in 4 decades when home-canned potatoes served at a church potluck sickened at least 29 people.
The recalled teas should be now removed from store shelves but if you find them in your neighborhood market you are asked to call CDPH at (800) 495-3232 right away.