The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
General Mills Recalls 600,000 Pounds of Flour Due to E. Coli Contamination Risk
Food manufacturer General Mills issued a voluntary recall of more than 600,000 pounds, or about 120,000 bags, of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour this week after a sample tested positive for a bacteria strain known to cause illness.
According to a Monday press release, General Mills is recalling five-pound bags of the flour with a "better if used by" date of Sept. 6, 2020 because of the presence of E. coli O26 bacteria detected during regular sampling.
While many E. coli strains are harmless to humans, sickness from this strain usually begins within four days of exposure and symptoms include cramping, diarrhea and dehydration, which can be deadly for children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations, CBS News reported.
The recall does not apply to other Gold Medal products, CNN reported, and so far, no illnesses due to contamination have been reported. A photo of the recalled flour's packaging was posted on the Food and Drug Administration website. These bags have the UPC code 016000 196100. Walmart and Target were among the major retailers selling the potentially contaminated flour, CBS News reported.
This latest recall comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control declared in July that a recent E. coli O26 outbreak stemming from four different brands of recalled flour and baking mix was now over. The outbreak resulted in 21 cases of E. coli infections across nine states with three people hospitalized. The recalled products were:
- Brand Castle, Sister's Gourmet, and In the Mix cookie mixes, recalled on June 21, 2019.
- Pillbury's Bread Flour, recalled on June 14, 2019.
- King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, recalled on June 13, 2019.
- Aldi's Baker's Corner All-Purpose Flour, recalled on May 23, 2019.
This isn't the first time this year that General Mills has had to voluntarily recall Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour, either.
In January, the company recalled five-pound bags of the flour with a "better if used by" date of April 20, 2020 due to possible salmonella contamination, CBS News reported. Despite being different types of bacteria, salmonella infection symptoms are similar to those of E. coli, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
E. coli contamination can happen when the wheat used to make flour comes into contact with animal waste while growing in the field, according to Consumer Reports. Though cooking methods can often kill the bacteria and testing procedures can prevent the spread of pathogenic strains, the system isn't uniform across companies.
"It's hard to determine what the industry standard for sampling and testing is because they usually do not share that information publicly and it's specific to each company," said James E. Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports.
The Centers for Disease Control has cautioned that flour has a long shelf life and people should throw away any of the recalled products in their pantry. Health experts also warned that flour and dough should not be eaten uncooked. If you are diagnosed with an E. coli O26 infection, notify local public health officials immediately, General Mills said.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
- New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egypt Was Brought Down by ... ›
- Climate Change Could Set Off Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Has 18 'Very High Threat' Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Discover 91 Volcanoes Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Sheet ... ›