An E. coli outbreak in Canada traced to flour produced by Colorado-based Ardent Mills Corp. spurred Smucker Foods to recall three brands of flour distributed across the United States.
Corporate attention has been so captivated by recall activities that officials have not had time to estimate how much flour has been recalled, a spokeswoman with Ardent Mills Corp. said Wednesday. The first recall — of Robin Hood brand flour distributed in Canada — was posted March 28 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“Given our focus on cooperating with the CFIA in its investigation, we have not taken time to estimate the amount of product that has been subject to the voluntary recalls,” the Ardent Mills spokeswoman said.
No illnesses have been confirmed in connection to the flour recalled in the United States, but it was produced with Canadian wheat that Ardent Mills used to produce flour that has been implicated in the E. Coli outbreak north of the border.
The initial recall in Canada cited one related illness. As of mid-May there were 30 people across Canada confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121. The same strain was found in a sample of flour collected from one of the victims’ homes, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Smucker sent the recalled Golden Temple, Swad and Maya brand flour to distributors across the United States and to two “small retailers,” according to the May 31 recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.
“The impacted product was produced by Ardent Mills located in Saskatoon, SK Canada. Additional flour and flour products have been voluntarily recalled in Canada in cooperation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as part of their ongoing E. Coli investigation,” according to the recall notice on the FDA website.
“If you have any of the products listed below, please dispose of them immediately. Recalled products should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and discarded.”
Anyone who has handled or consumed any of the recalled flour and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention.
“Food contaminated with E. coli O121 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die,” according to the recall notice.
Similar to the response from General Mills when more than 60 people were sickened in an E. coli from December 2015 through September 2016 that was linked to flour, Ardent Mills contends its products are safe and that flour should not be consumed raw.
Both milling companies take the position that pathogens found in the natural environment in which wheat is grown make it impossible to avoid contamination. Ardent Mills doubled down on that stand with the recall of its flour in the U.S.
“(Canadian Food Inspection Agency) CFIA requested this expanded recall of flour and flour products which were made, in part, using 11 loads of Canadian wheat which were common to the prior recalled flour and flour products and may have contained trace amounts of E. coli O121,” the Ardent Mills spokeswoman said.
“Any raw grain milled into flour can contain bacteria and microbes from the outdoor environment in which it is grown. … our mills adhere to stringent and mandated food safety protocols to ensure pathogenic bacteria are not introduced during the milling process at any our operations. By thoroughly cooking, baking, boiling, microwaving, roasting or frying food items made with flour, microbes are rendered harmless.”
The specific products included in the Smucker recall of flour distributed in the United States can be identified by the following label information:
|Product name & Size
|Best by Date
|Maya Durum Wheat Atta Flour
|0 20843 10001 9
|6 286 548
6 287 548
|Swad Durum Atta Flour Chappati Flour
|0 51179 16030 9
|6 294 548
6 299 548
6 300 548
6 308 548
|Golden Temple #1 Fine Durum Atta Flour Blend
|0 59000 40540 7
|6 286 548
6 299 548
|Golden Temple Durum Atta Flour Blend
|0 59000 41556 7
|6 287 548
6 288 548
6 294 548
6 295 548
6 300 548
6 301 548
6 306 548
6 307 548
6 308 548
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