Federal health officials on Friday widened an already big recall of flour after four more people got sick from food poisoning linked to the flour.
No one has died or developed the most dangerous symptoms from the E. coli infections, but 42 people have become ill from the General Mills flour, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said.
The FDA notes it's an unusual recall and has reminded people that any raw food can carry bacteria. Many of the people who got sick reported having eaten raw flour, in cookie dough for instance. Cooking kills most bacteria, including E. coli.
"Consumers should not eat raw dough or batter, whether made from recalled flour or any other flour. Flour or other ingredients used to make raw dough or batter might be contaminated," the CDC said.
The CDC says health officials have found harmful E. coli 0121 strains in General Mills flour collected from the homes of ill people in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
"Four additional people have been sickened, bringing the total number to 42. Indiana has been added to the list of states with ill people," the CDC added.
Eleven people in total have been hospitalized, the CDC said. "No one has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, and no deaths have been reported."
"Consumers should not use any of the recalled flour and should throw it out," the CDC cautioned.
"If you stored your flour in another container without the packaging and don't remember the brand or better by date is, throw it out to be safe. Consumers should thoroughly wash the containers before using them again."
Kitchen hygiene is important. "Do not taste raw dough or batter. Even tasting a small amount could make you sick," the CDC advised. "Wash any bowls, utensils, and other surfaces that were used when baking with hot water and soap."
The CDC estimates that about one in six Americans are made sick by foodborne illnesses every year — that's about 48 million people. About 3,000 die of these infections.