Canadian E. coli Outbreak Traced to Robin Hood Flour

Canadians are being warned today not to use or eat Robin Hood brand All Purpose Flour, Original (10 kg; Lot codes containing BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548; UPC 0 59000 01652 8), as these products may be contaminated with E. coli O121.

Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. initiated a recall after the product was linked to an outbreak of E. coli O121 that has sickened 25 people since mid-November 2016. All 25 outbreak victims were infected with the same genetic strain of E. coli O121. The recalled product was sold in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Six individuals were hospitalized; all six either have recovered or are recovering from their illnesses. The youngest victim was eight years old, and the eldest was 79. Fourteen men and 11 women are among the 25 victims. There have been no deaths.

Cases were reported in British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (4) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5). The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) advises that their ongoing investigation may lead to additional product recalls.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and CFIA remind consumers that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough or batter, regardless of the type of flour used, as raw flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E.coli.

Symptoms of E. coli infection can include severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and headache, and last 5-10 days in most cases. Typically, there is little or no fever.

PHAC urges the public to take the following precautions:

  • Do not use or eat recalled Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original. Secure the recalled product in a plastic bag and throw it out or return it to the store where it was purchased for a refund.
  • If you have flour without its original packaging and are unsure if it is included in the food recall, throw it out just to be safe.
  • Thoroughly wash any containers that were used to store the recalled product before using them again.
  • If you suspect you may have used recalled flour to make baked goods or a non-baked product, such as children’s play-dough, throw it out. Wash all surfaces or containers where the product may have been used or stored.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately following any contact with the recalled product.