General Mills is recalling nearly 10 million pounds of its flour over a possible link to an E. coli outbreak in 20 states. The company said that 38 people were sickened from mid-December 2015 through May 3, 2016. Ten of those individuals have been hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about half the people who became ill had been making something at home with flour, some of which was a General Mills Inc. brand. It is believed that some people may have also eaten raw dough or batter.
Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but this strain, E. coli O121, is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and on occasion life-threatening complications. Seniors, children and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk.
General Mills’ Gold Medal flour is the most widely used flour in the United States, spokesman Mike Siemienas said. While the company said E. coli has not been found in any of its flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, General Mills has issued the recall out of caution.
The recalled flour was sold at Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme, and includes:
- 13.5-ounce Gold Medal Wondra, UPC 000-16000-18980; Better if Used by Dates 25FEB2017 thru 30MAR2017
- 2-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour, UPC 000-16000-10710; Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC thru 03JUN2017K
- 5-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour, UPC 000-16000-10610; Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC, 27MAY2017KC thru 31MAY2017KC, 01JUN2017KC, 03JUN2017KC thru 05JUN2017KC, 11JUN2017KC thru 14JUN2017KC
- 10-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour, UPC 000-16000-10410; Better if Used by Dates 02JUN2017KC,03JUN2017KC
- 10-pound Gold Medal All Purpose Flour Banded Pack, UPC 000-16000-10410; Better if Used by Dates 03JUN2017KC, 04JUN2017KC, 05JUN2017KC
- 5-pound Gold Medal Unbleached Flour, UPC 000-16000-19610; Better if Used by Dates 25MAY2017KC, 27MAY2017KC, 03JUN2017KC, 04JUN2017KC
- 5-pound Signature Kitchens All Purpose Flour Enriched Bleached, UPC 000-21130-53001; Better if Used by Dates BB MAY 28 2017
- 5-pound Signature Kitchens Unbleached Flour All Purpose Enriched, UPC 000-21130-53022; Better if Used by Dates BB MAY 27 2017
- 2-pound Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour, UPC 000-16000-11710; Better if Used by Dates 23AUG2016KC
General Mills said to dispose of and not use any of the products in the recall. If you have questions, including how to receive replacement products, contact the company at 1-800-230-8103.
General Mills also took this opportunity to remind consumers of a few safety tips when it comes to flour:
- Flour comes from milling wheat, grown outdoors where bacteria are often present. Flour is a raw ingredient that is intended to be cooked or baked. While it is rare for individuals to get sick from flour, it is possible.
- Raw dough or batter should not be eaten.
- Children should not be allowed to play with raw dough.
- Bacteria found in raw flour are eliminated by normal cooking, baking, frying, or boiling products made with flour.
- All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough. Surfaces dusted with flour to roll dough for example, should be properly cleaned after use.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.