In recent weeks the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced recalls of a variety of food products that contain ground or powdered cumin.

The alerts are related to shipments of ground cumin that contained undeclared peanut protein — a known allergen that can cause a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction in people who are highly allergic or sensitive to peanuts.

Ground cumin is sold as a spice, in seasoning mixes and as a minor ingredient in finished food products like soups and chilies. Hundreds of products have been recalled since December, although the FDA noted that most processed food products are expected to have low amounts of ground cumin, and therefore may not contain enough peanut protein to trigger a reaction in most peanut-allergic people.

Nevertheless, the series of recalls has prompted the agency to advise people who are highly allergic to peanuts to consider avoiding products that contain ground cumin or cumin powder.

In a safety advisory published this week, the FDA said that consumers with severe peanut allergies and their caregivers should check the list of recalled products and avoid these foods. The FDA's product recall page can be found at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm2005683.htm.

More generally, when choosing foods to buy, review the ingredients panel for cumin. If the list of ingredients includes "spices" it may or may not contain ground cumin. People who are highly sensitive to peanuts may want to call the manufacturer to find out if the product contains cumin powder, the agency said.