May 29, 2024

ALDI Baker’s Corner Flour Linked to E. coli O26 Outbreak

ALDI Baker’s Corner flour has been linked to an E. coli O26 outbreak that has sickened at least 17 people in 8 states, according to the Centers for Diseases Control ands Prevention (CDC). That flour was recalled on May 23, 2019.

ALDI Baker's Corner Flour Linked to E. coli O26 Outbreak

The case count by state is: California (1), Connecticut (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Pennsylvania (2), and Rhode Island (1). Illness onset dates range from December 11, 2018 to April 17, 2018. The patient age range is from 7 to 86 years. Of 17 people who have been interviewed by public health officials, 3 have been hospitalized. There is no information about whether or not any of the patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection that causes kidney failure.

Whole genome sequencing was performed on isolates taken from people sickened in this outbreak. Those tests showed that the bacteria isolated from ill persons was closely related genetically. That means people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

Epideimiologic and traceback evidence indicates that flour is the likely source of this outbreak. Of seven people who were interviewed, four said they ate, licked, or tasted raw homemade dough or batter before they got sick. Two people who have more detailed information reported eating raw dough or batter made with flour or baking mixes from ALDI.

Investigators with the Rhode Island Department of Health collected records and flour samples at a bakery where one of the patients sickened in this outbreak said they ate raw dough. Records showed that the bakery in question used Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour from ALDI. The outbreak strain of E. coli O26 was isolated from an unopened bag of Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour collected at that bakery.

The flour was sold at the retail level in these states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachussetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. Other brands or lots of flour may be recalled as the government continues their investigation.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time raw flour has been linked to an E. coli outbreak. In 2016, an E. coli outbreak linked to General Mills flour sickened at least 63 people. And of course, the E. coli outbreak linked to raw Nestle cookie dough in 2009 was eventually linked to the uncooked flour used to make that product.

Flour can cause illnesses just like any raw agricultural product. It’s important that cooks treat raw flour as carefully as raw eggs. Never eat raw dough or batter. Don’t make play dough for your kids using raw flour. Clean your kitchen thoroughly, including the countertops, drawer handles, and floor, after you have worked with flour. And always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have handled uncooked flour and raw doughs and batters.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include a mild fever, serious and painful abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is usually watery or bloody. In some cases, especially when the patient is under the age of 5, hemolytic uremic syndrome can develop. Symptoms of that illness include lethargy, pale skin, little urine output, and easy bruising. Anyone who is experiencing any of these symptoms needs to see a doctor. You may be part of this ALDI Baker’s Corner flour E. coli O26 outbreak.

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