According to federal investigators at the Food and Drug Administration, select bags of Pillsbury's Best Bread Flour may be the latest product linked to a multi-state E. coli outbreak after the brand released a voluntary recall last week. More than 4,600 cases of the five-pound flour bags are being pulled from shelves in 10 different states across the Northeast, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. The affected Pillsbury bread flour varieties have the UPC code "051500200315" and expiration dates of June 8 or June 9, 2020.
Currently, there have been 17 reported E. coli cases across eight states that have been linked to flour consumption, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Pillsbury's bread flour is the third flour variety that's been recalled after being manufactured by Buffalo-based ADM Milling Co. The same manufacturer also produced upwards of 114,000 bags of King Arthur all-purpose flour that was recalled last week due to an E. coli risk; an earlier batch of flour produced for grocer Aldi was also recalled, CNN reports. This is the second time this year that Pillsbury products have been affected by a widespread contamination: in March, more than 100,000 bags of all-purpose flour were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.
While the flour's distributor, Hometown Food Co., says that illnesses have not been associated with Pillsbury's flour as of yet, the recall was issued because "certain wheat used to make these two lots of Pillsbury Best 5 lb. Bread Flour has been linked to E. coli illnesses..." While bread flour may be more niche than all-purpose varieties, many bakers stock this protein-heavy variety in bulk for bread baking sessions all year long, which is why investigators are asking home cooks to check their products. Federal agents are asking all bakers to dispose of the flour if the product matches the recalled batch. In its recall notice, Hometown Food. Co. says it is offering replacement coupons and shoppers can call 1-866-219-9333 with any questions about affected flour products.
CDC officials say that E. coli infections manifest side effects around 72 hours after consuming contaminated food or water; symptoms of E. coli poisoning include chronic vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, and widespread digestive issues, including diarrhea. In some cases, those affected can develop a serious condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a form of kidney failure. E. coli infections typically occur three to four days after consuming the bacteria, the CDC says.