The multi-state Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121 outbreak that has sickened more than three dozen people in 20 states has been linked to flour produced at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri prompting officials with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to advise against eating raw dough.
According to Jenny Scott, a senior advisor in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the bottom line for you and your kids is don’t eat raw dough. And even though there are websites devoted to “flour crafts,” don’t give your kids raw dough or baking mixes that contain flour to play with.
Why? Flour, regardless of the brand, can contain bacteria that cause disease.
“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” says Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods. So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.
The investigation into the E. coli O121 outbreak found that raw dough eaten or handled by some of the patients was made with General Mills flour produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, facility.
General Mills conducted a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of flour sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s, and Gold Medal Wondra. The varieties include unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flours.