French’s Just Recalled More than 3,000 Units of an Iconic Summer Grocery

Updated: May 04, 2024

Authorities report the product may be contaminated with bacteria that can cause bloodstream infections or other effects.

If Heinz ketchup is the face of ketchup, then French’s is the face of yellow mustard. The iconic bright yellow squeeze bottle with the red flag is unmistakable. McCormick, the spice company that distributes French’s mustard, also packages other products under the French’s name, including the equally iconic fried onions.

How do they keep French’s crispy onion rings fresh? McCormick’s ingredients list suggests that crunchy but chewy, salty-then-sweet bite that often turns up on green bean casseroles and as a burger topping is just a fresh onion coated in wheat flour, salt, and the sugar substitute dextrose. If your spring cookout or picnic feels incomplete without these iconic onions, it’s important to check your cabinets for a specific lot that is being recalled. 

Based on what we know about staph transmission, it seems this report may have originated in an infected individual’s handling of food or packaging. That’s not certain, but according to a recent “enforcement report” published by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 2, 2024, a total of 3,456 packages, each containing 16 six-ounce containers, are being recalled due to the potential growth of staphylococcus aureus. This recall applies to products distributed solely in Arizona and Illinois. Notification of the recall was sent to customers and retailers on March 18, 2024, through various channels such as mail, fax, letter, press release, telephone, or in-person visits. The affected containers can be identified by the UPC 041500220208. The FDA has categorized this recall as Class II, indicating that while it could lead to illness, it is likely to be “temporary or medically reversible.”

If you possess the affected product, you are advised to either discard it or return it to the place of purchase. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately a quarter of the population naturally harbors staph bacteria on their skin and in their noses, which typically poses no issue unless it proliferates on food. Foods that are not cooked after handling, such as these fried onions, are more susceptible to excessive growth of the bacteria, which produce toxins capable of causing illness. Although cooking will eliminate any present staph bacteria, the toxins they produce can persist and result in illness.

Consumption of a product contaminated with staphylococcus aureus may lead to sudden symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. While these effects usually subside within a day and are generally not severe, individuals with weakened immune systems and children may be at a higher risk of experiencing serious complications. If you experience any severe symptoms after consuming food always contact a healthcare provider and report the incident to your local health department or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).