Some all purpose baking flour packaged for Aldi grocery stores may be contaminated with E. coli and should be not be used, according to a warning today from Rhode Island officials.

The advisory came after testing by a state laboratory found E. coli in a 5-pound bag of “Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour,” according to a notice from the Rhode Island Department of Health.

As of today, the advisory affects only one lot code of Baker’s Corner flour 5-pound bags. Other types of Baker’s Corner flour are not subject to the warning. If consumers or others have flour on hand that is no longer in its original packaging, and it is not known for sure that it is not the implicated flour, they should throw it out.

“Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product,” the state department advised.

To determine whether they have any of the implicated flour on hand, consumers should look for the following packing information:

  • 5 lb. Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour
  • Package Lot Number – L18A02B
  • Best If Used By Date – 12/02/19

“Consumers are reminded to not consume any raw products made with flour. 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.

Information about E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten or handled any of the suspect flour and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen. Specific tests are required to diagnose E. coli infections, which have symptoms that can mimic other illnesses and cause difficulties during diagnosis and treatment.

The symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. If there is fever, it is usually less than 101 degrees F. Most people get better within a week.

About 5 percent to 10 percent of those who are diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working. They may also develop other serious problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and neurologic problems.

This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)