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Flour recalled over E. coli risk

King Arthur Flour has recalled 14,218 cases of 5-pound bags of its unbleached all-purpose flour because the products may be contaminated with E. coli, the company announced. The products were shipped to stores nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating an outbreak of E. coli O26 related to flour. Seventeen people in eight states have been sickened, and three have been hospitalized.

There are no reports of illnesses connected to King Arthur Flour.

Two people reported eating raw dough or batter made with flour or baking mixes from the supermarket chain ALDI, which recalled 5-pound bags of its Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour in late May.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating which other brands may be involved in the outbreak.

The recalled King Arthur bags are marked with one of three “best used by” dates and one of six lot codes:

• A best used by date of 12/07/19 and lot code L18A07C;

• A best used by date of 12/08/19 and lot code L18A08A or L18A08B;

• Or a best used by date of 12/14/19 and lot code of L18A14A, L18A14B, or L18A14C.

Check the bottom of the side panel, below the Nutrition Facts box, to find the “best used by” date and lot number, the company advises. If you have any of the affected product in your home, don’t use the flour—return it to the store or throw it away.

The recalled products were shipped only to stores. No King Arthur products sold online are involved in the recall, nor are any products sold through its Baker’s Catalogue; Baker’s Store in Norwich, Vt.; or Baking School in Burlington, Wash. Any remaining products in the recall have been pulled from grocery store shelves, says King Arthur spokesperson Gwen Adams, but consumers could still have the products in their homes.

King Arthur says it was alerted by one of its suppliers, ADM Milling Co., that the wheat used in the recalled products has been linked to the ongoing E. coli outbreak.

E. coli contamination in flour often begins when the wheat used to make it is tainted with animal waste while in the field, says James E. Rogers, Ph.D., director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports.

“Consumers should resist the temptation to eat raw dough or batter,” Rogers says. Bacteria that can cause foodborne illness can lurk in both uncooked flour and raw eggs. And don’t let kids make homemade play dough with raw flour either.

“When it comes time to cook, make sure to cook food thoroughly,” Rogers says, because cooking will kill the bacteria. And carefully clean any prep areas, dishes, and utensils used in cooking. Wipe raw flour off any countertops, and wash dishes with warm, soapy water or run them through a hot dishwasher cycle.

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