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Does the flour in your pantry have E-coli contamination?

With fall headed toward Kentucky at full speed, many people are finally getting back into the kitchen after spending the whole summer grilling out or avoiding the oven and range. Before you dust off your favorite recipe for cake, sourdough or homemade fried chicken, you need to double-check and make sure that the flour in your pantry is okay, as there is currently a massive recall of commercial flour.

Flour is essentially just ground wheat berries, typically with part of the plant removed to improve shelf stability and longevity. For the most part, flour is shelf stable and a great resource that allows individuals to cook a variety of foods on demand.

However, contamination is possible, as is evidenced by the recent, massive recalls. Earlier this year, several brands had to recall flour due to bacterial contamination. Now, another national flour brand has had to recall about 600,000 pounds of the 5-pound packages of their flour that could have E. coli contamination that would put consumers at risk.

Check the kind of flour and the expiration date

If you have Gold Medal brand flour in your pantry, it's time to look at the package. If you have a 5 lb. bag of Unbleached All Purpose Flour, you need to verify its expiration date. Packages marked with a "better if used by" date of Sept. 6, 2020, could very well have E. coli 026 contamination.

Individuals who consume contaminated flour will likely present symptoms after a few days which could include painful abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Some people who develop infections caused by this strain of E. coli can recover, although sometimes medical intervention is necessary. Bloody diarrhea and severe dehydration can both result from an infection.

For individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as the very old and the very young, this particularly aggressive bacteria could be a dangerous, even deadly pathogen. Thankfully, at the time of the recall, no consumer illnesses related to the flour had yet been reported.

People hurt by dangerous food products have rights

Big corporations that produce food products have an obligation to provide reliable and safe foods to the public. Despite many safety precautions in place, dangerous food can and does still reach the shelves of the typical American grocery store.

When companies that own brands like Gold Medal find out that their flour has a bacterial contamination, they can initiate a voluntary recall, as is the case with this current bad batch of flour. General Mills is the parent company in this case. Consumers who have purchased the flour can throw away the flour instead of returning it to the store. They can contact General Mills Consumer Relations at 1-800-230-8103.

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