After the illness reports continued, General Mills, Minneapolis, announced on July 25 that it expanded its flour recall. Originally announced on May 31, the recall now includes more production dates after four new confirmed illnesses were linked to consuming raw flour contaminated with strains of E. coli. The illnesses reported to health officials continue to be connected with consumers reporting they ate or handled uncooked dough or ate uncooked batter made with raw flour. No illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly baked, cooked or handled.
The additional products include 13.5-oz. Gold Medal Wondra, a 2-lb. Gold Medal All Purpose Flour, 4.25, 5- and 10-lb. Gold Medal All Purpose Flour, a 5-lb. Gold Medal Unbleached Flour, a 5-lb. Gold Medal Self Rising Flour and 2- and 5-lb. Signature Kitchens All Purpose Enriched Bleached and Unbleached All-Purpose Enriched Flours, respectively.
The company has proactively conducted flour tests and health officials are using whole genome sequencing to trace the illnesses, which led to the latest illness reports and recall expansion.
E.coli has been detected in a small number of General Mills flour samples and some have been linked to new patient illnesses that fell outside of the previously recalled dates. At this time, the company says, it's not known if there is a higher prevalence of E.coli in flour than normal, if this is an issue isolated to General Mills’ flour, or if this is an issue across the flour industry. The newer detection and genome sequencing tools are also possibly making a connection to flour that may have always existed at these levels.
"As a leader in flour production for 150 years, General Mills is committed to convening experts to work with government officials to learn more and create new protocols, if needed," states General Mills president and COO Jeff Harmening. "Most importantly, we want all the avid home bakers out there to have peace of mind and know the most important thing they can do to keep safe is to not eat uncooked flour." Flour is a raw ingredient 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.
Complete recall information can be found on the company's website at generalmills.com/flour.