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.
Pillsbury Flour Recalled Due to Salmonella Risk https://t.co/cOII3H5qkT #climate #organic #energy https://t.co/V1U1esFiC0— Eco-friendly Tips (@Eco-friendly Tips)1552391901.0
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.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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