Flour is a mainstay in kitchens everywhere. But if you have one popular brand in your pantry, take note. In the wake of an E. coli breakout that thus far has sickened at least 38 people in 20 states, General Mills recently announced a recall of its Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchens flour products. Though company officials say that the E. coli 0121 has yet to be found in any General Mills products or facilities, they’re acting “out of an abundance of caution” and working with federal health officials to investigate a potential link between the recalled flours and the reported illnesses.
In an effort to track the cause of the outbreak, researchers with the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention found that nearly half of those affected reported using flour in cooking or baking shortly before falling ill. Several recalled using General Mills brands, specifically. Some, however, also reported consuming raw dough or batter, which can carry bacteria that are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling, but potentially risky if eaten raw.
Though most strains of the E. coli bacterium are harmless, some can make you severely ill. E. coli 0121 is a potentially deadly strain that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, infants and young children, and those with compromised immune systems are at highest risk.
“As a leading provider of flour for 150 years, we felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” said Liz Nordlie, president of General Mills Baking division.
Company and health officials warn consumers to never eat or allow children to play with raw dough; and to thoroughly wash hands, utensils and all surfaces that come into contact with flour or dough.
Be sure to check your pantry for any recalled products and stop using them immediately. If you’ve suffered no symptoms of an illness, simply dispose of them. However, if you or your family members have fallen ill after eating foods made with a flour affected by the recall, keep the product and package intact, see a doctor right away and call 800-251-1111 to speak with a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.