General Mills is collaborating with health officials to investigate an ongoing, multistate outbreak of E. coli O121 that may be potentially linked to Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour, and Signature Kitchens flour (sold in Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme). Out of an abundance of caution, a voluntary recall is being made. To date, E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products.
State and federal 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 illness, 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.
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.
“As a leading provider of flour for 150 years, we felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” said Liz Nordlie, president of General Mills Baking division.
Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. E. coli O121 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, the very young, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.
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 and local public health authorities.
The recall affects the following retail flour products that could be currently in stores or in consumers’ pantries. It includes six SKUs (stock keeping units or UPC codes) of Gold Medal flour, 2 SKU’s of Signature Kitchens flour and 1 SKU of Gold Medal Wondra flour.