Utah retailers are heeding a national recall for Sudafed 12-hour cold capsules and have begun removing them from their shelves.

People who have Sudafed 12-hour capsules in their possession, no matter when they were purchased, are encouraged to return them to the place of purchase for a refund, said Kathy Bartlett, spokeswoman for Burroughs Welcome Co. in North Carolina, which manufactures Sudafed products."People should not focus on lot number," Bartlett said. "People should not take any 12-hour capsules, should return any 12-hour capsules in their possession and should be alert for signs of tampering with any over-the-counter product."

The recall follows incidents in the Seattle-Tacoma areas of Washington. Two people have died and another person became severely ill after taking capsules apparently laced with cyanide.

Although the problem is considered localized to the Seattle area, Burroughs Welcome has suspended production and shipping of the 12-hour capsules, the only capsule product in the Sudafed line. Bartlett said production is not likely to resume until the company has had time to inspect the recalled merchandise and review results of the on-going investigation.About 1 million packages of the product are currently in distribution, Bartlett said. The company plans to collect the returned

merchandise at a central location, thoroughly examine the packages and then destroy them.

Bartlett said this is the first time a Burroughs Welcome product has been involved with a product-tampering incident.

"The company has a plan and system in place for dealing with such problems," Bartlett said. "We had hoped we would never have to use it."

The poisoning appears to be a localized incident that does not involve the company's production plant in Greenville, N.C.

"Historically, tampering incidents have been local problems involving one specific product," Bartlett said. "Right now we are only concerned about public safety, and that is the reason for the national recall."

Utah merchants began pulling the product from shelves on Sunday, shortly after the national recall notice was received. Merchants will store the product in local warehouses until the company instructs them where to send it.

While officials say there is no reason to believe that Utah products have been contaminated, they urge consumers to inspect any over-the-counter medication packaging for tampering. If anything unusual is noted, consumers should make store managers aware.

The nationwide recall was announced Sunday, and the 650 members of the Utah Retail Merchants Association began pulling the product shortly thereafter.