Ardent Mills recalls flour as part of E. coli O121 investigation

Recalled Creative Baker All Purpose Flour

Ardent Mills is recalling various brands of flour following investigations into an E. coli O121 outbreak which has sickened 26 people.

The expanded recall came after findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Some lot codes and dates of Brodie Self Raising Cake & Pastry Flour 1kg, Creative Baker All Purpose Flour 20kg and Whole Wheat Flour 10kg and Golden Temple Sooji Creamy Wheat 2kg are involved.

Products have been distributed nationally at retail level.

Robin Hood flour positive for pathogen

It expands on a notice from Smucker Foods of Canada Corp concerning Robin Hood brand All Purpose Flour, Original 10kg bags with codes containing BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548.

Samples of this flour made in October 2016 at Ardent Mills’ Saskatoon, Saskatchewan plant have tested positive for E. coli O121.

Ardent Mills is an independent joint venture of ConAgra Foods, Cargill and CHS.

Other lot codes and dates of Robin Hood-branded flour are included in the expanded recall.

The CFIA said there have been no confirmed illnesses associated with products in the updated warning.

Ardent Mills said it is cooperating with the investigation.

“Flour is a raw agriculture commodity made from wheat, which is grown outdoors where bacteria and microbes, such as E. coli O121, are often present.

“The normal milling process does not have a “kill” step to eliminate microbes, such as E. coli O121 that may originate with the wheat. Common “kill steps” applied during food preparation include thoroughly boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving and frying. These so called “kill steps” will render the microbes or bacteria harmless.

“Thus, it is important that consumers note public health warnings not to taste raw dough or batter and that eating a small amount could make people sick. Consumers should also use hot water and soap to wash any bowls, utensils, or surfaces that flour was used on and to wash their hands after handling flour.” 

Ardent Mills said it is aware of one illness associated with flour and that person has recovered. There have been no illnesses with the products subject to the April 12 and 16 recalls.

"We continually review and challenge all operations in our plants diligently seeking to avoid any practices that could reintroduce microorganisms throughout our processes by using our good hygiene practices (GHPs), and are careful to exclude moisture to further limit microbial growth," said the firm.

"We invest capital to improve and enhance food safety in our plants. We also are committed to working with CFIA and other groups to help provide education broadly so people can understand and reduce food safety risks."

PHAC: It is not safe to eat raw dough

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the recall warnings and outbreak are a reminder that it is not safe to eat raw dough or batter, regardless of the type of flour as raw flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Restaurants and retailers are also advised not to sell or serve any recalled products or any items that may have been prepared or produced using them.

There have been 26 cases with a matching genetic fingerprint with one illness in someone visiting Canada.

Canadian cases were reported in British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (4) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5).

Illness onset dates range from November 2016 to February and six people have been hospitalized.

Several individuals who became ill reported having contact with Robin Hood flour, said PHAC.

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