October 27, 2021

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...]

Avoid Making and Serving These Potentially Dangerous Holiday Foods

Every year people are sickened by certain types of foods. Avoid making and serving these potentially dangerous holiday foods this season. Some are inherently dangerous, and others are easily contaminated with dangerous bacteria. The potentially harmful foods include cannibal sandwiches, raw cookie dough, eggnog, unpasteurized cider, and raw oysters. Cannibal sandwiches are sandwiches made with raw ground beef. They are a specialty in some areas of the Midwest United States. In 2013, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Wisconsin was associated with the seasonal consumption of these sandwiches. Raw ground beef is inherently risky, because cows carry pathogenic STEC bacteria in their guts. When the cows are slaughtered, the bacteria are released and can contaminate the beef. When this beef … [Read more...]

Again, Just Say No to Raw Dough During the Holidays

It's that time of the year again. People bake a lot during the holiday season, so it's time for another reminder: Just say no to raw dough. It's important that consumers not eat raw dough or batter of any kind unless the dough is made with pasteurized eggs and heat treated flour. Don't even taste a tiny amount. Those two ingredients can be contaminated with potentially deadly pathogens and in fact have caused many illnesses. Raw cookie dough and raw cake batter are the biggest culprits, but homemade play dough and play clay made with flour has also made children sick. Eggs are often contaminated with Salmonella bacteria; in fact, hens can carry the pathogen inside their ovaries. That means the eggs are contaminated on the inside so washing them won't help. And uncooked flour is a … [Read more...]

Food Allergens Can Become Airborne: How to Handle the Risk

Food Poisoning Bulletin constantly reports on food recalls for the eight major food allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fin fish, shellfish, wheat, eggs, and soy. Those eight allergens together cause at least 30,000 emergency room visits, 2000 hospitalizations, and 150 deaths in the U.S. every year. Recently we became aware that some foodborne allergens can become airborne. Some of the allergens are more of a risk than others. For instance, peanut allergens usually do not become airborne, and allergic reactions are not triggered from peanut butter vapors, according to a study published in the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Since peanuts allergies are typically more severe and more likely to trigger anaphylactic shock, this is a relief. Some other food … [Read more...]

Tips For Handling Flour Safely to Avoid Food Poisoning

When an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2009 was linked to the flour used in prepackaged cookie dough, many people were shocked. How could flour, which seems so innocuous, actually be contaminated with such a serious pathogen? Flour is dry. It seems inert and safe. But flour is a raw agricultural product, and can be contaminated with pathogens just like romaine lettuce. Learn some tips for handling flour safely to avoid food poisoning. Flour is so ubiquitous in the kitchen that many people don't give it a second thought. But an E. coli O26 outbreak last year linked to Aldi's Baker's Corner, Pillsbury bread, and King Arthur Flour sickened 21 people in 6 states. And in 2016, an E. coli O121 and O26 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour sickened 63 people in 24 states. Not … [Read more...]

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