General Mills Flour Connected to E. coli Outbreak
On June 1, the CDC announced that they were involved in an investigation into an outbreak of E. coli connected to Gold Label Flour. The outbreak has sickened 38 people across 20 states. Ten people have been hospitalized for their illnesses. Those sickened by the outbreak had illness onset dates between December 21, 2015 and May 3, 2016. Interviews conducted by the CDC revealed that about half of the people sickened in the outbreak prepared foods with Gold Label Flour prior to their illnesses. The CDC reports that their investigation points to the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri as the likely source of the outbreak.
A total of 20 states have been affected by the outbreak, including Alabama with 1 case, Arkansas with 1 case, Arizona with 2 cases, California with 1 case, Colorado with 4 cases, Massachusetts with 2 cases, Maryland with 1 case, Michigan with 4 cases, Minnesota with 3 cases, Missouri with 1 case, Montana with 1 case, New York with 1 case, Oklahoma with 2 cases, Pennsylvania with 2 cases, Texas with 2 cases, Virginia with 2 cases, Washington with 2 cases, and Wisconsin with 1 case.
Just one day before the CDC announcement, on May 31, 2016, General Mills announced that it had been working with state and federal health officials, and had decided to issue a voluntary recall for about 10 million pounds of flour. Three different brands of flour are affected by the recall, including six UPC codes of Gold Medal brand flour, two UPC codes of Signature Kitchens brand flour, and one UPC code of Medal Wondra brand flour. A full list of recalled products can be found here. The recalled flour was distributed to retail locations across the United States. Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme stores all received and sold the contaminated flour.
The CDC report recommends “that consumers, restaurants, and retailers do not use, serve, or sell the recalled flours.” Doing so may lead to an E. coli infection. E. coli bacteria are a family of bacteria that can be found in many environments, and many strains of the bacteria are harmless. However, some strains of the bacteria, referred to as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), can cause illness in humans. E. coli poisoning is a fairly common form of foodborne illness, causing about 265,000 cases of illness in the United States each year. E. coli infections generally will produce symptoms within 72 hours after infection. An E. coli infection will produce symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. Children, the elderly, and those with suppressed immune systems are at an increased risk of developing a serious E. coli infection. E. coli infections can produce a very serious condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS damages red blood cells, which in turn damage the kidneys after they are filtered out of the bloodstream.
If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of E. coli poisoning after eating food prepared with Gold Label brand flour, first contact a medical professional. If you are diagnosed with E. coli, it may be possible to seek compensation from General Mills. At Merman Law Firm, we will work tirelessly to recover any losses due to pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. Our attorneys have years of experience in foodborne illness cases. If you think that you may have a case, fill out our free case evaluation form.