The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that General Mills is recalling certain Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour, and Signature Kitchens flour products as part of an investigating into an ongoing, multistate outbreak of E. coli.
Authorities have been researching 38 occurrences of illnesses across 20 states related to a specific type of E. coli (E. coli O121) between December 21, 2015, and May 3, 2016. While attempting to track the cause of the illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that approximately half of the individuals reported making something homemade with flour at some point prior to becoming ill. Some reported using a General Mills brand of flour.
However, to date, E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility. The company has not been contacted any consumers reporting confirmed illnesses related to any of these products.
Details about the specific products being recalled are available online. The products were sold in Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme.
Based on the information that has been shared with General Mills, some of the ill consumers may have also consumed raw dough or batter. Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying, or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.
Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can cause illness. E. coli O121 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, the very young, and people with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illnesses.
Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician. Anyone diagnosed by a physician as having an illness related to E. coli O121 is also urged to contact state public health authorities.
Recall products should be thrown away. Consumers who have additional questions or who want to request replacements should contact General Mills at 800-230-8103. Additional recall information can also be found at www.generalmills.com/flour.