Today, General Mills announced a nation wide recall for 5 lb. bags of its Gold Medal “Unbleached All Purpose Flour” marked with a “better-if-used-by” date of Sept. 6, 2020 for the potential presence of E. coli O26, which FDA officials said was discovered during sampling of the 5 lb. bag product.

According to the recall, “This recall only affects this one date code of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Gold Medal Flour are not affected by this recall.”

As of today, General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product. 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. Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • Package UPC Number – 016000 196100
  • Better If Used By Date – 06SEP2020KC

Government officials warn consumers to refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour; “E. coli O26 is killed by heat through baking, frying, sautéing or boiling products made with flour.”

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.

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