Raw cookie dough and batter are a favorite snack of many, but because of a current and ever-expanding flour recall, the FDA is warning consumers to steer clear. General Mills, one of the biggest flour manufacturers in the nation, is in the midst of a massive flour recall, a recall issued because a large amount of the baking staple has been contaminated with the potentially deadly E.coli microbe.
Currently, the flour recall is impacting rough 45 million pounds of General Mills flour, and the problems the recall has caused has consumers wondering how in the world did fecal bacteria get into the flour in the first place?
The flour recall that prompted the recent FDA warning is quite expansive, and it has caused dozens of illnesses in 21 states. The Food and Drug Administration says that the flour responsible for making people sick was produced between November 2015 and February 2016. All of the contaminated flour that has been impacted by the recall was produced by a single facility in Kansas City, reports Fox News.
The FDA issued the flour recall and warning about the dough and batter after several people became sick and their illnesses were traced back to the contaminated General Mills flour.
So far, officials have pinned down two different infection-causing strains of E.coli bacteria in the contaminated flour. While there have been multiple E.coli recalls in recent years, raw flour has never been the source of an outbreak before, particularly a widespread, multi-state outbreak such as the one taking place now.
Both the FDA and CDC are actively investigating how the dangerous E.coli bacteria found its way into the flour, but so far have been unable to determine a source of the contamination. Most commonly, E.coli bacteria begins its life in the intestines of an infected animal and is shed through feces. Unwashed hands and poor hygiene can contribute to the spread of E.coli bacteria, although it’s unknown whether or not improper hand washing may have been the cause of the current flour recall and batter consumption warning.
Flour is what is known as a “raw agricultural product.” It is made by grinding wheat grown in open fields, and it’s not treated with heat or radiation or any other process in order to eradicate potentially harmful bacteria. As such, it’s possible that the flour that has been impacted by the recall and the FDA warning said it could have been contaminated with the E.coli before it ever came in contact with human hands.
The current flour recall that caused the FDA to issue its raw dough warning is responsible for making at least 46 people in 21 U.S. states sick. Unfortunately for them, E.coli is a fairly nasty bug, and because the symptoms mimic so many other intestinal illnesses, it often goes undiagnosed.
The most common symptoms of E.coli infections include vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. In the vast majority of cases infected individuals get better in about a week, even without treatment. However, in extreme cases of E.coli exposure, infected individuals can develop more extreme symptoms including kidney failure and even death. Thirteen people impacted by the current flour recall have gotten so sick from their E.coli infections that they have required hospitalization and one has suffered from kidney failure.
“Batches of unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flour varieties from General Mills, Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchens flour brands are included. A few cake mixes, a biscuit mix and a pancake mix containing General Mills flour also were recalled.”
The full list of products impacted by the current flour recall can be found here.
While the current flour recall is quite expansive, in reality, the 45 million pounds of flour that have been impacted by the General Mills recall is only a small percentage of 2.5 billion pounds of flour produced by the company on an annual basis.
Consumers are urged to check their pantries to ensure they aren’t using General Mills flour impacted by the recall. If you believe you or a loved one may have been sick despite FDA warnings, contact your doctor or local FDA office.
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