Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Flour recall widened to products from 11 loads of wheat

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The maker of Robin Hood and other brands of flour is further widening a major product recall to cover products made from 11 loads of Canadian wheat.

Ardent Mills and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on Saturday announced an expanded nationwide recall to include more varieties and sizes of Robin Hood, Golden Temple, Purity, Brodie and Creative Baker flours.

The agency began its recalls starting in late March with just a few lot codes of Robin Hood all-purpose original flour but has since expanded the list of affected products several times.

CFIA’s latest complete list of recalled flours and flour products, including various brands of pie and tart shells, is available here.

According to Ardent Mills on Saturday, CFIA requested the expanded recall of products which were made, “in part,” using 11 loads of Canadian wheat common to the previously-recalled flour and flour products and may have contained trace amounts of E. coli 0121.

“It is with extreme caution and commitment to food safety that Ardent Mills is expanding this recall,” the company said, adding “there has been no positive finding of contamination and no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these newly recalled products.”

Flour, CFIA warned, is “not a ready-to-eat food and should not be consumed raw. Handling and eating homemade dough and playdough made from flour can make you sick.”

“Consumer food safety is of paramount importance to Ardent Mills, and our mills adhere to stringent and mandated food safety protocols to ensure pathogenic bacteria are not introduced during the milling process at any of our operations,” Kent Juliot, Ardent’s vice-president of research, quality and technical services, said in Saturday’s release.

However, Denver-based Ardent Mills, which has Canadian facilities in Montreal, Saskatoon, Mississauga and Brampton, Ont., said milling alone isn’t enough to keep pathogens out of flour.

Flour, Ardent said Saturday, is still “a raw agricultural commodity made by simply grinding and sifting wheat” and “any raw grain milled into flour can contain bacteria and microbes from the outdoor environment in which it is grown.”

The recalled products carry “no greater or lesser risk, in this regard, than any other flour or flour products milled using such time-honoured traditions.”

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the recalls are connected to its investigation of cases of E. coli O121 infection across Canada with a matching genetic fingerprint.

Cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Saskatchewan (four), Alberta (five), Newfoundland and Labrador (five) and Quebec and Ontario (one each); one was a visitor to Canada. Illness onset dates ranged from November 2016 to April 2017. Of the 30 people, eight were hospitalized and have recovered or are recovering.

Several of those affected reported having contact with Robin Hood flour, PHAC said, and CFIA’s food recall warnings were “triggered by findings during the food safety investigation into this outbreak.” — Network

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