November 28, 2023

E. coli HUS Outbreak Linked to General Mills Flour Highlights Risk of Raw Flour

Consumption of raw flour can lead to E. coli HUS infections, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, titled “Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC) Infections Associated with Flour,” looks at the 2016 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour.

E. coli HUS Outbreak Linked to General Mills Flour Highlights Risk of Raw Flour

That outbreak was caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O21 and O26 bacteria. The CDC investigation ended on September 29, 2016 and stated that “Although the outbreak investigation is over, illnesses are expected to continue for some time. The recalled flour and flour products have long shelf lives and may still be in people’s homes. Consumers who don’t know about the recalls could continue to eat the products and get sick.”

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened with E coli HUS infections, said, “Even when you recover from this infection, you may develop serious health problems in the future.” Call 1-888-377-8900.

At least 63 people in 24 states were infected with the outbreak strains of E. coli bacteria. Seventeen of those patients were hospitalized. One person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of this type of infection that can cause kidney failure.

All epidemiological, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicated that flour produced at a General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri was the likely source of this E. coli HUS outbreak. Laboratory testing isolated the outbreak strains from flour samples taken by public health officials. Whole genome sequencing found that the isolates from patients and from the flour were closely related genetically.

As a result of this outbreak and traceback investigations, more than 10,000,000 pounds of flour and flour products were recalled.  And this outbreak is a reminder that it is never safe to eat or taste raw dough or batter that includes uncooked flour. Children should never be given play dough made with raw flour. Most people don’t think of flour as being a vehicle for foodborne illness mostly because it’s dry, but it is an untreated agricultural product and can be contaminated just like any other food.

E. coli can survive in a desiccated state, new research has shown. When the dried forms of this bacteria come into contact with water, they can start growing and replicating.

If you or a loved one experience the symptoms of E. coli or HUS, it’s important to see a doctor. HUS is life threatening and anyone with this illness needs medical care. Anyone infected with this bacteria could develop heart problems, kidney disease, or high blood pressure later in life.

Source information: From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (S.J.C., L.B., L.W., A.B., M.N.S., D.W., E.T., M.E.W., K.P.N.), and IHRC (L.B., D.W.), Atlanta; Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD (L.N.S., B.M.W., J.B., S.V.); Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver (N.C.); Washington State Department of Health, Shoreline (B.M.), and Food and Drug Administration, Bothell (J.W., L.A.N.) — both in Washington; Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Lansing (K.D.A., D.D.); Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma City (J.S.); and Virginia Department of Health, Richmond (K.A., J.R.).

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman helps people sickened by contaminated food such as the recalled General Mills flour protect their legal rights, and get compensation and justice. Our lawyers represent patients and the families of children sickened with serious infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, food producers, food processors, restaurants, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker won $7.5 million for a client whose kidneys failed because he developed hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli infection. Class action lawsuits are usually not appropriate for outbreak victims because these cases are very unique.

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