General Mills Recalls Flour Over Illnesses Linked to Possible E. coli Contamination

gm-recalls-flour-ecoli

No more sticking fingers into cake batter or cookie dough.

On Tuesday, General Mills announced that it was voluntarily recalling various batches of its Gold Medal, Gold Medal Wondra and Signature flours that federal officials have potentially linked to illnesses in 38 people in 20 states caused by a strain of E. coli.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about half of those people became ill after making something at home with flour, according to a news release from General Mills.

Some of those who were sickened may have eaten raw dough or batter, the company said.

“In general, C.D.C. recommends that people not eat raw dough or batter intended for cooking or baking, and children not be provided raw dough to play with,” an agency statement said. “People should use safe food-handling practices when preparing such products, including following package directions for cooking at proper temperatures; washing hands, surfaces and utensils after contact with these types of products; avoiding cross-contamination; and refrigerating products properly.”

Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but E. coli O121, the one found in the 38 sick people, is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, children and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

General Mills said the pathogen had not been found in any of its flour products or in its flour manufacturing plant. “Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria, which are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling,” the company said. Its website has information on the flour batches affected by the recall.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Stephanie Strom