Investigators have identified Gold Medal flour as the source of a salmonella outbreak that has infected at least 13 people in 12 states, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
General Mills announced last week that it’s recalling 2-, 5- and 10-pound bags of bleached and unbleached all-purpose Gold Medal flour that have a “better if used by date” of March 27 or 28, 2024.
Of eight people interviewed by health officials, seven reported eating raw dough or batter, the CDC said. “All six people who remembered the brand of flour they used reported Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, and [the US Food and Drug Administration] found the outbreak strain in Gold Medal flour collected from a General Mills facility in Missouri.”
Three people have been hospitalized in connection with the outbreak, but no deaths have been reported. The CDC notes that the true number of illnesses is probably higher because some people who recover without medical care don’t get tested for salmonella and because it usually takes weeks to link illnesses with an outbreak.
Salmonella usually causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps within six hours to six days of consuming the bacteria. Most people recover without treatment within a week, but those who are younger, who are older or who have weakened immune systems may develop severe illness.
Consumers who have the recalled flour should throw it away or return it to the point of purchase, and wash any surfaces or containers that may have come into contact with it.
General Mills spokesperson Mollie Wulff said in a statement last week, “We are continuing to educate consumers that flour is not a ‘ready to eat’ ingredient. Anything made with flour must be cooked or baked before eating.”
Most flour is raw and hasn’t been treated to kill germs that cause food poisoning, according to the CDC. Salmonella bacteria dies when it is cooked or baked, but people can get sick when eating or tasting foods that include raw flour. Raw dough used for crafts and play clay also pose a risk.
The CDC advises baking or cooking any foods made with any brand of raw flour before eating. Thoroughly wash hands, bowls, utensils and surfaces after using raw flour. If making play dough at home, use heat-treated flour.