General Mills announced a voluntary recall of over 10 million pounds of flour on Tuesday due to a possible E. coli outbreak. Although there have been no reported illnesses and no actual E. coli found in the flour yet, the effects of E. coli can be serious, depending on your immune system. If you think you might have consumed some and are worried, knowing how e. Coli affects pregnant woman is a good place to start, mainly because food borne illnesses affect pregnant women, children, babies, and older adults more than anyone else.
E. coli is a bacteria found in food; It's symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, and "severe stomach cramps," according to the Centers for Disease Control. Symptoms will usually pass within a week. But it's still pretty terrible while it lasts, presuming it doesn't get worse.
If you're pregnant and have any of these symptoms, and think you may have come into contact with potentially affected flour products, you should go to a doctor right away. Vomit and diarrhea caused by E. coli are usually bloody — so it's not your normal body just rejecting everything because you're carrying another human around. E. coli can also reek some pretty serious consequences on pregnant women specifically.
The Food and Drug Administration says that infections can lead to premature birth or a miscarriages, namely because extreme nausea and diarrhea cause dehydration, which is never good for anyone, but especially not moms-to-be. You can also pass the infection to the baby. So, if a few days after eating something weird you feel terrible (and who sees blood in their stool and doesn't want to call their doctor?), the earlier you head into the OB or physician's office, the better.
Before you start tossing flour around the kitchen in a fit, remember: This recall is voluntarily and they are still investigating whether any flour has been contaminated.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't chuck or return any of the products included in the recall though — why take a chance? The investigation began, according to a statement from the company, because there have been around 40 recently reported cases of E. Coli. According to the CDC, some of those patients reported consuming food that may have contained General Mills flour or eating raw cookie batter. (Everyone, didn't you ever listen to you moms when they told you to stop snacking from the mixer? I know, it's so tempting, but don't do it.)
Liz Nordlie, president of General Mills Baking division reiterated in a statement that this recall was announced out of an abundance of caution. “We felt it was important to not only recall the product and replace it for consumers if there was any doubt, but also to take this opportunity to remind our consumers how to safely handle flour,” she said. It looks like already the company is holding out for some salmonella to blame the reported illnesses on, and who can judge them?
A 10 million pound recall is a big deal. But when it comes to having consumers possibly unwittingly consume contaminated flour — especially pregnant women — it's better to cut your losses and opt for safety.