Pantry Staple Recalled for Undeclared Ingredients

( – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an urgent recall of AVIATOR 5-pound vacuum packs of Sundried Tomato Halves in December because they may contain undeclared sulfites. The agency warns that those with sulfite sensitivities are at risk of severe illness or death if they consume the product.

The issue was detected during routine sampling by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors, who say the packages were distributed nationwide without notification of the presence of sulfites. The FDA says no related illnesses have been reported but stressed that the recall applies to all 50 states.

However, Global Veg Corp, which produces the additive, contradicted the federal agency and told reporters that the recall should only apply to New York and New Jersey.

Sulfites are found in several food types, including tomato puree and paste, and are most often added to extend shelf life and add color to the product. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that around 1 in 100 Americans are sensitive to sulfites, and reactions to ingestion can range from mild symptoms to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

The National Library of Medicine lists adverse reactions in sensitive individuals, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rash and dermatitis, and low blood pressure.

The additive regularly made news headlines in the 1980s, and laws were passed to regulate its use during that decade. For example, the federal government banned sulfites from being added to fresh fruit and vegetables following a series of related deaths. Some activists at the time said the ban did not go far enough, and many believe the same today.

The legislative change occurred when a Santa Ana woman died in 1985 after eating from the salad bar at a local pizzeria. The restaurant used sulfites to keep the salad looking fresh.

A year later, drug companies were forced to update their labeling and include detailed warnings that the additive was present and its possible effects.

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