The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) on May 19 issued a statement indicating that six people in British Columbia were infected with the same strain of E. coli O121 between February and April 2017.
A sample of flour from one of the ill individuals was tested by the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory, and the flour subsequently was found to be positive for the same strain of E. coli O121 as seen in all the illnesses.
As a result of its findings, the BCCDC recommended that consumers dispose of Rogers Foods all-purpose flour in a 10 kg bag with the lot number MFD 17 Jan 19 C. The flour was available to Costco customers in British Columbia beginning in January 2017.
“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,” the BCCDC said.
The earlier recall initially was linked to Robin Hood all-purpose flour, original, produced by Smucker Foods of Canada Corp., a subsidiary of The J.M. Smucker Co. That recall was expanded to include products made by Ardent Mills’ facility in Brampton, Ont.
Responding to the latest findings, Rogers Foods issued a letter to its customers noting its commitment “to producing safe, quality flours for our consumers.”
“We are working diligently with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in their investigation on how this bag became contaminated with E. coli O121.,” Rogers Foods said. “At this point the agency has not recommended a recall. However, we encourage all of our consumers with the flour lot code in question to abide by the BC Centre for Disease Control’s recommendation. We appreciate the testing and scientific analysis being done by both the BC Centre for Disease Control as well as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Their investigation is ongoing.
“We must emphasize that flour is a raw agricultural product and must be thoroughly baked or cooked before eating.”