Here’s what you need to know about this recent food recall and how to protect yourself.
General Mills recently issued a voluntary recall on one of its flour products due to the potential presence of Salmonella.
The company said the recall applies only to five-pound bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached Flour with a better-if-used-by date of April 20, 2020.
Other types of Gold Medal Flour or those with different date codes are not affected by the recall.
Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of nonprofit Stop Foodborne Illness offered advice for people concerned about the recall.
“Consumers should be mindful of the lot numbers announced in the recalls, not consume the product, and return or dispose of the product that is implicated right away,” said Schlunegger.
General Mills said people who have had to discard flour covered by this recall may contact the company’s consumer relations department at 1-800-230-8103 or by visiting www.generalmills.com/flour.
Jim Murphy, President of General Mills Meals and Baking Division, said in a press release that the company is “continuing to educate consumers that flour is not a ‘ready to eat’ ingredient. Anything you make with flour must be cooked or baked before eating.”
Schlunegger said “many consumers don’t consider flour to be a source of concern.”
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warns against people eating raw dough, whether it’s for cookies, bread, pizza, or tortillas.
In addition to the potential contamination of flour with Salmonella or other bacteria, raw eggs in the dough may also carry Salmonella.
The bacteria can be killed with heat, such as through baking, frying, or boiling foods made with the flour. In addition, surfaces, utensils, and hands that come in contact with flour or dough should be properly cleaned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Salmonella sickens about 1.2 million people each year in the United States, with 450 people dying each year from the illness.
Exposure to Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually occur 12 to 72 hours after infection, and can last for 4 to 7 days.
Most people get better without treatment. But in severe cases, people may need to be hospitalized. These cases can result in death if not treated quickly with antibiotics.
In some cases, the bacteria may get into the bloodstream and lead to infections of the arteries, inflammation of the inner lining of the heart, or arthritis.
Older adults, infants, and people with impaired immune systems are at the highest risk of developing severe illness from Salmonella infection.
In the recent recall, the Salmonella was detected during routine sampling of the product.
“We are seeing more recalls as food safety technology and tracking mechanisms improve,” said Schlunegger. “Of course, consumers want to see fewer food safety issues, illnesses, and deaths from pathogens in food.”