E. coli outbreak prompts flour warning from B.C. officials
Published Friday, May 19, 2017 5:30PM PDT
Officials with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have issued a warning after six people were infected with the same strain of E. coli.
The BCCDC said Friday that all six were infected between February and April, with the strain known as O121.
It is believed that at least one of the six had consumed tainted flour, which was tested by the BCCDC and found to contain O121.
When the statement was issued officials did not yet know whether any of the other five had consumed the same type of flour, but the BCCDC issued a warning as a precaution. Consumers are asked to dispose of Rogers all-purpose flour, sold in a 10-kilogram bag with the lot number MFD 17 Jan 19 C.
The flour was available to Costco members in B.C. starting in January.
The B.C. advisory comes at the same time as a national outbreak linked to various flours, but officials said the national warnings involve a different strain of O121, and it is not known whether the cases are linked.
The BCCDC said the outbreak is a reminder that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough, batter or other foods containing raw or undercooked flour, regardless of the brand of flour used. "Surfaces that come into contact with raw flour should be thoroughly washed as flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria," the agency said in a statement.
E. coli may cause mild to severe symptoms including watery diarrhea and stomach cramps, the BCCDC says. In rare cases, those infected may experience fever, and may have bloody diarrhea if their case is severe.
Symptoms typically start a few days after exposure, and last between five and 10 days.
Those who think they may have an infection are advised to drink clear fluids and see a doctor if symptoms are severe, or if children may be infected. Anyone who experiences vomiting and diarrhea after consuming raw flour is asked to contact their doctor or call the provincial nurse line at 811.
Infections can be prevented by peeling and/or washing fruits and vegetables, fully cooking meats and using separate cutting boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods. Those concerned about a risk of infection should avoid unpasteurized milk and juices, wash their hands before and after preparing food and eating, and heeding boil water advisories.