Recalled Flour Continues to Pose Problems, As More Products Impacted Amid New Illnesses

Following additional reports of food poisoning, a nationwide recall of General Mills flour has been expanded to include additional products that may be contaminated with a harmful strain of E. coli, which has sickened dozens of consumers nationwide. 

The General Mills flour recall expansion was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 1, following four additional reports of illness caused by the same strain of E. coli O121 that has already sickened a total of 42 individuals and hospitalized 11 in 21 different states.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report Indiana is the newest state to be added to the list of impacted areas throughout the country.

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General Mills originally recalled flour products sold under the Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens and other brand names on May 31, impacting 10 million pounds of flour produced between November 14, 2015 and December 4, 2015. That action was taken after at least 38 cases of food poisoning in 20 different states were identified, including at least 10 illnesses that required hospitalization.

The CDC has identified at least four new illness reports from consumers infected with the same strain of E. coli O121 associated with the recalled General Mills flour products. One of the newest reported cases received by the FDA out of Oklahoma was tested using Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and determined to be genetically related to the current outbreak. However, the flour product in which the contamination stemmed from in Oklahoma was not included within the production dates listed in the original recall, prompting an expansion of flour products that may be contaminated.

General Mills is adding eight stock keeping units (SKU) of Gold Medal Flour, 1 SKU of Signature Kitchens Flour, and 1 SKU of Gold Medal Wondra flour sold in various sizes to the recall expansion. For a full list of the recalled products including the newest products added please visit the FDA recall notice.

The recalled flour poses a major health problem for health officials, as consumers typically keep the products in their pantry for years, and may not realize the flour poses a risk. Although contamination in flour is cooked out of the products and the FDA has warned consumers not to consume any raw flour products, the contamination could spread if utensils, surfaces and cookware are not properly cleaned.

Most forms of E. coli typically cause mild to severe forms of abdominal and bowel discomfort but are usually harmless. However, E. coli O121 is a potentially fatal bacterium that may cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration for about a week for healthy individuals. Symptoms are more severe and could be life threatening to children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems due to the potential for those individuals to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a type of kidney failure that causes fever, abdominal pain, pale skin color, fatigue, irritability, nose and mouth bleeds, and decreased urination.

The FDA is warning not to use any of the recalled products or consume any foods prepared using the flour. The agency is advising consumers if there is any doubt whether a product is impacted by the flour recall to discard it. Individuals who become sickened by the E. coli infection are encouraged to contact their state or local health authorities.

General Mills is asking consumers to throw away any remaining recalled products and to contact the company’s Consumer Relations team at 800-230-8103 for additional questions and requests for a replacement flour product. According to the FDA, the investigation is still ongoing and updates will be provided as further progress is made.

1 Comments

  • MaryJoJuly 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I cater in DC & MD Eastern Shore. live in Chester, Md. Bought a 10 lb bag of Gen Mills flour in recall list. Had made lemon-EVO cakes & cookies when at 5 am Tues morning got a shrill phone beep from BJ's. three out everything. Scrubbed appliances & kitchen with Clorox. Called Gen Mills- they were rude & just wanted info on flour bag (by then in dumpster) told me my customers could eat cooked items[Show More]I cater in DC & MD Eastern Shore. live in Chester, Md. Bought a 10 lb bag of Gen Mills flour in recall list. Had made lemon-EVO cakes & cookies when at 5 am Tues morning got a shrill phone beep from BJ's. three out everything. Scrubbed appliances & kitchen with Clorox. Called Gen Mills- they were rude & just wanted info on flour bag (by then in dumpster) told me my customers could eat cooked items/ only raw dough dangerous!!

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