Citing the General Mills flour and flour products recall as the most recent example of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s slow-moving food recall process, Sen. Charles (Chuck) Schumer (D-New York) is calling on the agency to review the process.
Schumer’s call for the FDA to review its processes from top to bottom to determine if there is any way the agency can speed up the process of recalling tainted food products follows on the heels of a preliminary report completed by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the FDA has been tardy in issuing food recalls.
The ongoing recall efforts of General Mills to get potentially-tainted flour off grocers’ shelves and out of consumer pantries was only announced in May 2016, five months after the 21-state E.coli outbreak linked to flour began in December 2015.
The General Mills Flour Recall: “Don’t Eat Dough or Batter”
Some of the flour produced at the General Mills’ Kansas City, Missouri processing plant has been identified as being tainted with two different strains of E. coli, bacteria that has caused illness in 46 individuals in 21 states. Thirteen of those individuals have required hospitalization for their illness; one has developed kidney failure.
How the flour became contaminated with bacteria that is present in the intestines of animals is unknown at this time. Flour, considered to be a raw agricultural product, is the result of processing wheat. Authorities are unsure if the wheat became contaminated with animal feces while growing in the fields, or somewhere along the processing chain.
“Only a small sub-set of flour produced at the Kansas City plant has been traced back to individuals who have become ill. To date, E. coli has not been found in testing of the manufacturing facility.”
Although companies such as Nestle heat-treat the flour that goes into its prepackaged cookie dough as do many manufacturers whose products contain cookie dough, such as in ice cream, General Mills explained it cannot heat-treat all flour because it would affect the product’s ability to rise and alter other baking properties of flour.
Health authorities advise everyone to avoid eating raw dough or batter out of caution to avoid becoming ill from tainted flour. General Mills provides a list of recalled products on their website.
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