MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has added flour production dates to a previously announced U.S. retail flour recall after the confirmation of four new illnesses. The illnesses reported to health officials continue to be connected with consumers reporting that they ate or handled uncooked dough or ate uncooked batter made with raw flour, General Mills said, adding that no illnesses have been connected with flour that has been properly baked, cooked or handled.
“The addition of new flour production dates is the result of General Mills conducting proactive flour testing and new information from health officials who are using new whole genome sequencing techniques to trace illnesses,” the company said. “E. coli (several sub-types) 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.”
General Mills, which originally announced the recall on May 31, said it is unknown whether the industry is experiencing 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 also possibly are making a connection to flour that may have always existed at these level, the company said.
|Jeff Harmening, president and c.o.o. of General Mills|
“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,” said Jeff Harmening, president and chief operating officer of General Mills. “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.”
In order for severe E. coli illness to occur from flour, General Mills said all three of the following things have to happen: The flour a consumer is using has to contain the rare sub-types of E. coli that can make a person sick; the consumer has to eat raw dough, batter or other uncooked food made with the flour, or handle the raw dough and not wash their hands; and the consumer’s individual health characteristics will impact if they get sick and how severely. Some consumers have mild symptoms and others get very sick. It is not always known who will get sick and who will not.
Previously announced recalled flour production dates ranged from Nov. 4, 2015, through Dec. 4, 2015. The expansion announced July 25 includes select production dates through Feb. 10, 2016.The flour recall at General Mills began May 31 and involved Gold Medal Flour and Gold Medal Wondra. Initially affecting 10 million lbs of flour, an expansion of the recall on July 1 increased the affected amount to 30 million lbs and the latest recall brings the total amount to 45 million lbs. The full list of recalled products is available at www.generalmills.com/flour.