Bakers Beware: Several Brands of Flour Recalled due to link with E-coli.
Several popular brands of flour are being recalled across the United States due to an outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli). Although these bacteria, commonly known as E. coli, are common in the human bowels and generally not harmful, some strains can introduce toxins into the gut and make us sick. The strain showing up in this latest outbreak linked to flour is the ‘Shiga’ toxin-producing strain. So far there are 17 victims in 8 different states, including 3 hospitalizations.
According to the CDC, flour brands being recalled include:
- Pillsbury Best Bread Flour (5 lb. bags)
- King Arthur Flour (5 lb. bags)
- Aldi Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour (5 lb. bags)
In addition to these 5 lb. bags, the recall includes unique ‘lot codes’ sharing a common use by date. Consumers should immediately dispose of the possibly contaminated flour. So far, retailers in West Virginia, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have recalled thousands of these bags, sold nationwide, but the FDA continues to investigate if other brands or lots within these recalled brands are contaminated with the Shiga toxin.
Following ingestion of the Shiga toxin producing E. coli, typically by way of infected fecal
matter having found its way into the food source, illness presents itself within an average of 3-4 days (though it can happen in a matter of hours or as long as a week to ten days later). Most adversely affected are the kidneys. Upon entering the body, Shiga toxin can cause ‘Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome’ (HUS), resulting in temporary or even permanent kidney damage including kidney failure. Children are generally at higher risk of a more extreme reaction to the illness. Symptoms generally begins with diarrhea and bloody stool. A test of the ill person’s feces will confirm the presence of E. coli.
As with any bacteria making its way into the foods we ingest, E. coli and its variety of toxic strains can be quite dangerous. Practicing good hygiene in the preparation of food can mitigate exposure. Experts advise that we keep track of brand and ‘use-by’ date of our flour- especially when transferring to a different container. And, if you suspect your baking materials could be a part of a recall, discard them. Clean out contaminated or possibly contaminated containers thoroughly with soapy water before re-filling. And, before you start baking be sure to wash surfaces and your hands also. During the baking process do not eat raw dough…germs can be present and even small amounts can make you sick.