In the latest of what feels like a never-ending stream of food scares, yesterday, General Mills issued a voluntary recall of some bags of three brands of flour it produces -- Gold Medal (the most widely used flour in the US), Wondra and Signature Kitchens – due to potential E. coli contamination. Overall, 10 million pounds of flour were recalled, in an instance USA Today called “extremely rare” for the cooking staple.
Worth noting is that, according to General Mills, to date, no sign of E. coli has “been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility,” however, as the CDC researched 38 occurrences of illnesses across 20 states caused by a specific E. coli strain known as E. coli 0121, the government agency “found that approximately half of the individuals reported making something homemade with flour at some point prior to becoming ill. Some reported using a General Mills brand of flour.”
That was enough to convince General Mills to get its flours out of homes and off of store shelves – and also to politely remind people buying flour that they should use it for cooking instead of shoveling it into their face out of the bag. “As a leading provider of flour for 150 years, we felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” president of General Mills Baking division Liz Nordlie was quoted as saying in the recall announcement.
So what is the safe way to handle flour? “Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour,” said General Mills. “Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter.” It’s flour, not sushi, people!
To specifically see which products were recalled, you can see the complete list here.