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Andrew D'Arcy
Andrew D'Arcy
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General Mills widened its recall of potentially contaminated flour Monday, and health officials said 46 people have been made sick so far by raw flour.  The company first recalled about 10 million pounds of flour in May, saying it could be linked to a breakout of E. coli.  Then, this month, they recalled select flavors of Betty Crocker cake mix for the same reason.  This week’s additional recall includes even more flour sold under the brand names Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchens.

This expanding flour recall was issued over a possible link to an E. cola outbreak after four new illnesses were reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said flour produced at a General Mills plant in Kansas City, Missouri, is a likely source of the outbreak, which so far has sickened people in 21 states.  The CDC said that 13 people have been hospitalized, and one person has developed a type of kidney failure.  No deaths have been reported.

General Mills says the illnesses have been connected with consumers who ate or handled uncooked dough or ate uncooked batter made with raw flour.  The company points out that, “No illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly baked, cooked or handled.”  According to the FDA, the bacteria E. coli can be eliminated in food products through cooking with heat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that consumers should bake all items made with raw dough or batter before eating them.  “Flour is a raw ingredient that is intended to be cooked or baked.  Flour is made from wheat that is grown outdoors where bacteria are often present and the normal flour milling process does not remove these bacteria,” it said.

Last month, the FDA warned Americans anew against the dangers of eating raw cookie dough, specifically because of the E. coli breakout and its subsequent flour recall.  They recommend that if you have purchased any of the recalled flour products to throw them away immediately.

So far, a total of 45 million pounds of flour has been pulled from shelves.  A full list of products included in the flour recall can be found at www.generalmills.com/flour.