New E. coli outbreak associated with flour in B.C.

Microscopic image of E.coli bacteria.
Microscopic image of E.coli bacteria.

Six people in British Columbia were infected with the same strain of E. coli between February and April, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

A sample of flour from one of the people who got ill was tested by the BCCDC. The flour tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O121, which was seen in all the illnesses.

While it is unknown at this time whether the other people who got sick consumed the same flour, the BCCDC recommends that consumers dispose of Rogers all-purpose flour in a 10-kilogram bag with the lot number MFD 17 Jan 19 C.

This flour was available at Costco stores in B.C. beginning in January.

BCCDC says the outbreak serves as a reminder that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough, batter or foods containing raw or under-cooked flour regardless of the type of flour used, and that surfaces that come into contact with raw flour should be thoroughly washed as flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

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The centre also says that although this outbreak is occurring at the same time as a national outbreak involving a different strain of E. coli O121 that has been linked to various flours and flour products, it is unclear whether there is a link between the two outbreaks.

In March, Robin Hood brand of all-purpose flour was recalled for a possible E. coli O121 contamination, resulting in 25 reported cases of illness. The affected product was sold in stores in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It was later expanded to all of Canada.

READ MORE: Robin Hood flour recall expanded to all of Canada

Anyone who becomes ill with vomiting and diarrhea after consuming raw dough, batter or flour products is asked to consult their physician or call the nurse line at 811.

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