The Food and Drug Administration has posted a recall notice for some of Pillsbury’s flour, which the company sent to its business partners a week ago. As you may recall, I reported earlier this week about the company’s failure to go public with the recall and the positive Salmonella test behind it.

Grocery store owners were on it, though, with at least three well known chains posting the recall on their websites as soon as they got it from Pillsbury’s parent company. Publix, Winn-Dixie and Meijer deserve a round of applause.

As per the agency’s standard operating procedure, FDA officials would not release the recall information until the company sent the agency a copy of a public recall notice. Hometown Food Co. officials notified the FDA about the recall on March 8, the same day they informed distributors and retailers. But, the Dough Boy’s parents failed to provide the recall notice to the government at that time.

The FDA delayed action as the result of a word game, it appears, based on a statement Hometown Food Co. provided to Food Safety News on March 12. Scrabble is a great word game. Salmonella is not.

In response to FSN’s queries about why they had not provided the FDA with the necessary recall notice, the Hometown Food Co. folks said they sent the FDA “a letter in reference to the recall.” 

A “letter” to the agency is not the same as a copy of a public recall notice, and I find it nearly impossible to believe the food safety officials at Pillsbury’s parent company don’t know that. Pillsbury isn’t the only high-profile brand Hometown Food Co. owns. Its stable also includes Martha White, WhiteLily, Jim Dandy, Funfetti products from Pillsbury, and Hungry Jack.

The FDA’s procedure for handling food recalls has been in place for many years. It’s not that complicated. It’s aggravating, according to many in the food industry, but it’s not that complicated. It’s not a perfect procedure in terms of getting really important public health information to the public, but it’s not that complicated.

There haven’t been any confirmed illnesses related to the recalled flour, yet. I say yet because of the incredibly long shelf life of flour and also because of serious illnesses and foodborne outbreaks traced to flour — not Pillsbury flour — in the past couple of years.

The heavyweights at Hometown Food Co. need to give up their Word Wrestling Federation belts and get some big girl panties.

Here’s the recall they sent to FDA, bold, underlined and italicized type in tact:

“Please be advised the Hometown Food Company initiated a limited, voluntary retail-level recall on two specific lot codes of its Pillsbury® Unbleached All-Purpose 5 lb Flour (UPC 51500-22241)because it may be contaminated with Salmonella. Only Best If Used By Dates APR 19 2020 and APR 20 2020 are impacted.

“Roughly 12,245 cases of impacted Pillsbury® Unbleached All Purpose Flour product were distributed through a limited number of retailers and distributors nationwide.   The only product lots affected by the recall are as follows:

Item Name Case Item Code UPC Item Code Lot Code BIUB Date
Pillsbury® Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
0 5150022241 3 0 5150022241 6 8 292 APR 19 2020
Pillsbury® Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
0 5150022241 3 0 5150022241 6 8 293 APR 20 2020

“Other Best If Used By Dates and Lot Codes are not affected by this recall.

There have been no reports of any illnesses associated with this recall. Product is being recalled out of an abundance of caution. This voluntary recall is being made with the full knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

“Flour is made from wheat that is minimally processed. Flour should not be considered a ready-to-eat product. It is an ingredient for baked, fried, and cooked products, and these heating processes ensure the safety of flour with proper handling. All surfaces and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should wash their hands after handling flour or uncooked dough or batter. Consumers should not eat uncooked dough or batter made with raw flour. If you think you became sick from a food containing flour as an ingredient, please call your healthcare provider.

“Please check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers should not consume the recalled product.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this caused and are offering replacement coupons for your product. Please call our 800 number (1-800-767-4466). We remain committed to producing the high-quality products you expect.”

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