General Mills is once again asking shoppers across the nation to check their pantries for flour that could be potentially contaminated with life-threatening bacteria. More than 600,000 pounds, or around 120,000 five-pound bags, of General Mills' Gold Medal all-purpose flour is being recalled for possible E. coli contamination. According to the Food and Drug Administration's announcement, General Mills alerted federal safety officials that the bacteria in question was found during a random sampling of the product.
"The recall is being issued for the potential presence of E. coli O26 which was discovered during sampling of the five-pound bag product," General Mills' officials said in a statement posted to their website. "This recall is being issued out of an abundance of care as General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product." The company says none of its other products or flours are affected by the current recall in place.
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The tainted flour is in five-pound bags stamped with a "best if used by" date of September 6, 2020, according to the FDA. Shoppers should be able to find the product's UPC, 000-16000-19610-0, somewhere near the barcode on the exterior of the bag. Safety officials are asking home cooks and bakers to check their stores given the prolonged expiration date; if you're one of the unlucky shoppers who have purchased a bag, you should either dispose of the product immediately or bring it back to the point of purchase for a full refund.
This isn't the first time that General Mills has issued a recall for its signature Gold Medal flour—back in January, bags of flour that were best-by April 2020 were recalled due to a possible salmonella contamination. Other manufacturers have also recalled flour; King Arthur's Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and Pillsbury's Best Bread Flour were recalled over the summer, among others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against eating raw dough due to the fact that flour may contaminate other ingredients used in cooking; while E. coli is often killed by baking, frying, or boiling, there's a chance that raw or undercooked ingredients could sicken you.
E. coli bacteria can cause infections that manifest side effects within 72 hours of eating contaminated foods, according to the CDC. Symptoms of E. coli poisoning include chronic abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases, hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious and rare form of kidney failure. If you feel that you may have come into contact with E. coli bacteria, officials say it's best to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible to avoid prolonging any sickness.
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