January 27, 2023

Safer Food Choices For Those at Risk For Food Poisoning

Every month there is at least one food recall about a potentially dangerous food in the United States. These recalls are for foods that may be contaminated with E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, cyclospora, and Campylobacter. Unfortunately, some foods are inherently risky because of the way they are grown or prepared. While the general public certainly is at risk for illness from these foods, there are some people who can become seriously ill if they are infected. There are safer food choices for anyone who is at high risk for food poisoning complications. People at higher risk for serious complications from food poisoning include the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic health problems such as diabetes, and anyone with a compromised immune system. … [Read more...]

Holiday Reminder: Raw Dough Can Contain Dangerous Pathogens

It's time for the annual holiday reminder: raw dough can contain dangerous pathogens. While most people know that eating raw eggs is risky, fewer know that uncooked flour is also a potential hazard. The FDA has been warning consumers about the potential dangers of raw eggs for decades. Eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria not only on the shell, but inside the egg itself. Hens can carry the pathogen in their ovaries, so the eggs are then contaminated from the inside out. Always handle raw eggs as if they are contaminated. Cook them thoroughly, and avoid recipes that use raw eggs. Eggs that are pasteurized are safe to eat raw, as long as you follow expiration dates. There have been outbreaks linked to raw, or uncooked flour, in the past few years. Flour is a raw agricultural product … [Read more...]

More Consumer Education Needed About Consumption of Raw Flour

More consumer education is needed about the consumption of raw flour, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Protection. Several outbreaks in the past few years have been linked to raw flour, including an E. coli outbreak linked to an unnamed brand of cake mix last year that sickened at least 16 people in 12 states, and an E. coli O26 outbreak in 2019 linked to ADM Milling flour that sickened at least 21 people in nine states. The study states that the consumption of raw flour is a public health risk. The FDA collected data on perceptions about uncooked flour in the fall of 2019, and on self-reported consumption behaviors, through its Food Safety and Nutrition Survey. The results showed that 35% of consumers said they tasted or ate something with uncooked, or … [Read more...]

Yearly Reminder: Don’t Eat Raw Cookie Dough or Cake Batter!

The holiday baking season has begun, and it's time for the yearly reminder: don't eat raw cookie dough or cake batter! There are two specific ingredients in those recipes that can make you very sick: raw flour and raw eggs. The only way to destroy those pathogens is with heat. Pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes are destroyed when they are heated to 160°F. While it may seem counterintuitive that a dry product such as flour can contain pathogens, flour is a raw agricultural product. It can be contaminated in the field, during harvest, or transport, or during processing just like leafy greens or other produce. There have been many recalls of flour for pathogen contamination, and several serious multistate outbreaks linked to that product. E. coli … [Read more...]

Do You Know Food Safety Rules For Baking in the Kitchen?

Do you know food safety rules for baking in the kitchen? You may know to handle eggs carefully and to bake cookie doughs and cake batters before eating them, but do you know why? With a new E. coli outbreak linked to cake mix, these rules are more important than ever. Many people know that raw eggs can contain pathogenic bacteria, and think that's why food safety experts say not to eat raw cookie dough and cake batter. But eggs are not the only safety issue when baking. As improbable as it seems, flour is a raw agricultural product and not only can it be contaminated with pathogens, it has caused several multistate food poisoning outbreaks in the past few years. All-purpose, cake flour, and bread flour are made from wheat, which is grown in fields. And like all foods grown … [Read more...]

Cake Mix E. coli Outbreak Sickens 16 in Twelve States; One HUS Case

A cake mix E. coli outbreak has been announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sixteen people in twelve states are sick. Seven people have been hospitalized. The patient case count by state is: Illinois (2), Indiana (1), Iowa (2), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Nebraska (2), Ohio (2), Oregon (1), South Carolina (1), Utah (1), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). The patient age range is from 2 t0 73 years, with a median age of 13. The age range for outbreaks linked to baking ingredients usually skews young; 75% of children in this outbreak are under the age of 18. The hospitalization rate is 44%. That is high for an E. coli outbreak, which is usually around 20%. And one person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. The … [Read more...]

Do You Know That Raw Flour Can Contain Dangerous Pathogens?

A study published in the Journal for Food Protection found that most people treat flour as if it is safe. But do you know that raw flour can contain dangerous pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella? In 2019 there were many recalls of flour for possible E. coli contamination, including the brands Robin Hood, Gold Medal, Wild Harvest, Hodgson Mills, Pillsbury, and King Arthur. And an E. coli O26 outbreak that sickened at least 21 people in nine states was linked to ADM Milling flour, which produced Aldi, Pillsbury, and King Arthur flour. The study, which was a survey conducted online by participants recruited in May 2019, found that consumers do not consider flour a high risk for microbial contamination. More than 80% of those surveyed were unaware of flour outbreaks or relays, … [Read more...]

MMWR on Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O26 Infections Linked to Raw Flour

Most consumers do not recognize that raw, or uncooked, flour, is considered a health risk as this item is a raw agricultural product that has not undergone a kill step to eliminate pathogens. In the April 23, 2021 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a study is presented that looked at the 2019 multistate outbreak of E. coli O26 linked to raw flour. On February 20, 2019, PulseNet identified six Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O26:H11 infections with the same DNA fingerprint. This pattern matched infections from a July 2018 outbreak that was associated with ground beef. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched an investigation to identify the outbreak source. Investigators first thought the outbreak was linked to ground beef  because … [Read more...]

Consumer Knowledge About Flour Risks Lags Behind Reality

Consumer knowledge about flour risks lags behind reality, according to a research article published in the International Association for Food Protection. The research finds that consumers do not consider flour a high risk for bacterial contamination, but flour is a raw agricultural product and a source of outbreaks. Six food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to wheat flour and flour products in the U.S. and Canada since 2009. Those outbreaks have sickened at least 200 people with Salmonella and E. coli bacteria. In 2019, an E. coli O26 outbreak linked to ADM Milling flour sickened at least 21 people in 9 states. The flour brands that were recalled in association with that outbreak included Pillsbury bread flour, ALDI Baker's Corner, and King Arthur flour. And in 2016, an E. … [Read more...]

Home Treated Flour May Not Be Safe Says Purdue Researcher

The risks of uncooked flour have been well documented through studies and food poisoning outbreaks linked to that ingredient. But many recipes, especially older ones, call for using flour that is not cooked. To be able to make these recipes without the risk of food poisoning, many sites have been advocating that home cooks treat their own flour. But a Purdue researcher says that home treated flour may not be safe after all. The typical "recipe" for treating raw flour at home is to spread it on a pan and microwave it or bake it in the oven until it reaches 160°F, the temperature at which E. coli and other pathogens are destroyed. Purdue food scientist Yoahua "Betty" Feng states that those treatments are not guaranteed to make the flour safe. She says that while heating meats or … [Read more...]

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