Crayons and placemat games are familiar “kid friendly” activities restaurants provide to help young diners pass the time while waiting for dinner. Some also provide little ones with a ball of pizza dough to play with, a practice they may rethink in the wake of an E. coli outbreak linked to flour.
The 20-state outbreak linked to General Mills flours sickened 38 people between December 21, 2015, and May 3, 2016. Three of the case patients, who range in age from 1 to 95, reported eating or playing with raw dough at restaurants before they became ill. (Nine others reported tasting raw dough or batter prepared at home.)
The outbreak illustrates that raw eggs are not the only ingredient in dough that poses danger. E. coli can cause serious illness and death. Children under five are among those at greatest risk of infection and at heightened risk of developing the life-threatening complication hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Food for thought for those in charge of kid friendly restaurant games.
E. coli symptoms usually develop within two to five days of exposure but can appear within 24 hours or take as long as 10 days to develop. They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, that is sometimes bloody. Sometimes these symptoms, which last about a week, are accompanied by a low-grade fever. Anyone who ate the recalled flour and developed theses symptoms should see a doctor.
The outbreak has triggered a recall for 10 million pounds of flour sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature. Consumers should check recall information carefully.
As of the last update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the case count by state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (2), California (1), Colorado (4), Iowa (1), Illinois (4), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (4), Minnesota (3), Missouri (1), Montana (1), New York (1), Oklahoma (2), Pennsylvania (2), Texas (2), Virginia (2), Washington (2) and Wisconsin (1).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers not to eat or play with raw dough made with flour that is intended to be cooked or baked, that dough is cooked to proper temperature to kill pathogens and that hands, work surfaces and utensils are properly cleaned after contact with raw dough containing flour.