For the second time this year Hometown Food Co. is recalling some of its Pillsbury flour because of bacterial contamination. This time the pathogen is E. coli and the flour is from a mill linked to an outbreak.
The new recall includes more than 4,600 cases of Pillsbury “Best Bread” flour. Hometown Food shipped the implicated flour to retailers and distributors in 10 states. Federal officials are urging consumers to check their homes for the recalled flour, according to an outbreak update posted by the Food and Drug Administration.
Consumers should look for 5-pound bags of “Pillsbury Best Bread Flour” with a UPC number of 0 5150020031 5 and one of the following lot code and use-by combinations:
- Lot Code: 8 342 with Use-By Date: JUN 08 2020
- Lot Code: 8 343 with Use-By Date: JUN 09 2020
The date codes are printed on the side of the package below the “Nutrition Facts Panel.” Hometown Food’s recall notice says the company shipped the flour to retailers and distributors in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The recall notice does not name the retailers that received the recalled Pillsbury flour. The recall does not state if distributors shipped the product on to other locations.
Hometown Food initiated the recall amidst an eight-state outbreak of E. coli O26. there are at least 17 people confirmed sick, according to an update this weekend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three of the patients have required hospitalization. As of June 15, no illnesses had been confirmed in connection to Pillsbury flour.
ADM Milling Co. manufactured the recalled Pillsbury flour at a mill in Buffalo, NY. The same plant was used to make Baker’s Corner brand flour that has been linked to the E. coli outbreak. ADM produced and packaged the Baker’s Corner flour for Aldi.
Aldi recalled the implicated Baker’s Corner flour on May 22 because the Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed an unopened package of it tested positive for the outbreak strain of E. coli O26.
This past week, the King Arthur Flour Co. recalled some of its flour, sold by a variety of undisclosed retailers, because it was manufactured at ADM’s Buffalo mill. ADM is a wholly owned subsidiary of the multi-national corporation Archer Daniels Midland. No confirmed illnesses have been linked to the King Arthur flour.
Consumers can use the following information to determine whether they have the recalled Baker’s Corner of King Arthur flour in their homes:
Aldi Baker’s Corner All Purpose flour
- All five-pound bags, all lot codes, and all best if used by dates for product distributed in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia
King Arthur Flour
- Five-pound bags of unbleached all-purpose flour with the following lot codes and best by dates:
- BEST USED BY 12/07/19 LOT: L18A07C
- BEST USED BY 12/08/19 LOTS: L18A08A, L18A08B
- BEST USED BY 12/14/19 LOTS: L18A14A, L18A14B, L18A14C
Anyone who has any flour that was originally packaged under one of the recalled brands but is not still in the original bag should error on the side of caution and throw away the flour. Containers used to store recalled flour should be throughly washed with soap and warm water.
Previous Pillsbury recall and consumer advice
Hometown Food’s current Pillsbury flour recall doesn’t appear to be related to its March recall of certain other Pillsbury flour. The company initiated that recall of 12,158 cases of 5-pound bags when random testing found Salmonella in an unopened bag. The March recall notice did not reveal what company milled the implicated flour.
As with all of the recent flour recall notices and outbreak updates, Hometown Food’s current recall reminds consumers of their responsibility to practice safe food handling practices to avoid foodborne pathogens in raw flour.
“Flour is made from wheat, which is a raw product that is minimally processed. Flour is not a ready-to-eat product. It is an ingredient for baked, fried and cooked recipes, and these heating processes, along with proper handling, ensure the safety of consuming flour,” according to the Honetown Food recall notice.
“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.”
Consumers with questions about the Pillsbury flour recall can call Hometown Food at 866-219-9333.
Pillsbury’s parent company, Hometown Food Co. is based in Chicago. It was formed by the private equity firm Brynwood Partners in June 2018 with the specific purpose of acquiring a portfolio of brands from The J.M. Smucker Co., according to the Byrnwood website.
The closing price was about $375 million for the exclusive U.S. rights to the iconic Pillsbury flour and other shelf-stable baking products including Funfetti, Hungry Jack, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White.
Flour in an unwanted spotlight
The potential food safety dangers of flour have been in the spotlight almost constantly since May of 2016. An E. coli outbreak documented by the FDA and the CDC sickened people across 24 states from Dec. 21, 2015, to Sept. 5, 2016.
Flour recalls posted on the FDA website since May 2016 include:
Reason / Problem
|03/23/2018||King Arthur||Organic Coconut Flour||May contain Salmonella||King Arthur Flour Company|
|05/31/2017||Golden Temple®, Swad®, and Maya®||Flour||Potential presence of Escherichia coli O121 (E. coli O121)||Smucker Foods of Canada Corp.|
|09/08/2016||The Baker’s Scoop HEB||Whole wheat flour||Possible foreign matter||Morrison Milling Company|
|07/25/2016||Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens||Flour||E. Coli||General Mills|
|07/01/2016||Gold Medal, Wondra, and Signature Kitchens||Flour||E. coli O121||General Mills|
|05/31/2016||Gold Medal, Gold Medal Wondra, Signature Kitchens||Flour||E.coli||General Mills|
Advice for consumers
FDA offers these tips for safe food handling of flour:
- Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
- Closely supervise children handling flour for baking and craft projects to make sure they don’t touch their faces and that they properly wash their hands after handling raw flour.
- Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
- Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
- Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
- Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.
About E. coli infections
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. If there is fever, it is usually not lower than 101 degrees F (38.5 degrees C). Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or even life-threatening symptoms and complications.
About 5 percent to 10 percent of those who are diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, 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.
Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or die. This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.
People who experience HUS symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately. People with HUS should be hospitalized because it can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage and neurologic problems.
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