CDC Confirms E. Coli Outbreak Links to General Mills Flour

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jun 03, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a Kansas City facility of General Mills as the "likely source" of an outbreak of E. coli O121 linked to flour. Federal officials reported they found the current, ongoing outbreak of E. coli in February, but it took until late April for investigators to determine the  common denominators that led to General Mills’ recall of 10 million lb. of flour on May 31.

As part of its investigation with state, local and federal health and regulatory officials, the CDC said traceback investigations using package information collected from sick people and records collected from restaurants where ill people were exposed to raw dough indicated the flour was produced in the same week in November 2015 at the General Mills facility in Kansas City.

So far, 38 people across 20 states have been confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121, the CDC reported adding that 10 people required hospitalization, but none have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, and no deaths have been reported.

General Mills indicates the strain of E.coli behind the illnesses has not been found in any of its flour products or in the manufacturing facility. The Kansas City plant was open and operating on Wednesday, and the company was continuing to investigate, said company spokesman Mike Siemienas.

General Mills on Tuesday, May 31, announced it was voluntarily recalling about 10 million lb. of flour "out of an abundance of caution," following reports of E.coli O121 among consumers. The CDC's investigation is ongoing.

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