Federal health officials warn that an ongoing E. coli food poisoning outbreak is linked to Bakers Corner all-purpose flour sold at Aldi’s stores throughout the northeastern United States, which has already sickened at least 17 consumers in eight states, and may pose a continuing risk for months if consumers to not realize the flour in their pantry has been recalled.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating a multi-state E. coli O26 food poisoning cases linked to the recalled flour, which has resulted in confirmed illnesses in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, California, and Connecticut. At least three consumers have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak, since December 2018.
After health officials linked the food poisoning to Aldi’s product, a recall of all Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour products sold at retail locations in the northeastern United States was announced on May 23.
Through the use of the CDC’s PulseNet system and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), health officials were able to identify the strain of infection in those who became ill was closely related, and likely shared a common source of infection.
By May 23, Rhode Island Department of Health officials reported random samples collected at a local bakery, where an ill person reported eating within days of becoming ill, had tested positive for E. coli O26. Records indicated the bakery used Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour that was purchased from a local ALDI grocery store.
ALDI indicated the recalled flour was shipped to various retailers in 11 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.
The recall includes Bakers Corner All Purpose Flour sold in 5 lb. bags with UPC code 041498130404.
Customers in possession of the recalled products should stop consuming them immediately, and either discard it or return it to their local ALDI store for a full refund. Customers with additional questions may contact ADM Milling Company Customer Service at 800-422-1688.
Currently, the CDC and FDA are working to determine whether any additional brands or lots of flour may be potentially contaminated and need to be included in the recall. Further updates will be provided as new information becomes available.
Consumers are being reminded to never consume raw products made with flour, due to the increased risk the products may contain bacteria from being grown outdoors. Raw flour handlers should always fully cook any food items containing raw flour and always remember to wash their hands and clean any work surfaces or utensils thoroughly to prevent further contamination.
E. coli is a foodborne bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals and can become pathogenic causing severe bowel pain and diarrhea when exposed outside of the human intestinal tract. The bacteria are commonly transmitted through contaminated water or uncooked food, or through contact with animals and infected persons.
Typically, E. coli symptoms cause mild to severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps, bloody stools, and sometimes minor fevers lasting between five and 10 days. Individuals such as young children or the sick and elderly may be affected more because of a weakened immune system that if left untreated could develop into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which could lead to kidney failure and even death.