Fecal contamination in cake mix is making consumers sick
| Headline Health – Put away that yummy Cake Batter French Toast Recipe for another time.
Conagra, one of the nation’s leading producers of cake mixes, has issued a nationwide recall for four varieties of its Duncan Hines mixes, and for a reason that’s all too familiar to Headline Health readers – salmonella.
According to Mayo Clinic,
“Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.”
As is the case in yesterday’s coverage of McCain Foods, Duncan Hines processing plants to not process meat. Duncan Hines mixes do not contain eggs or dairy products. This leaves human fecal contamination from food workers as the most likely origin of yet another case of food poisoning that is making Americans sick.
Further details from foodsafetynews.com …
Salmonella outbreak, tests spur recall of Duncan Hines cake mixes
Food Safety News – Federal officials are working with Conagra Brands to investigate Salmonella infections associated with Duncan Hines cake mix. The multinational food giant today recalled some of the mixes because one flavor tested positive for the outbreak strain of the bacteria.
“The FDA is investigating the manufacturing facility that made recalled Duncan Hines cake mixes,” according to an investigation announcement posted tonight by the Food and Drug Administration:
“FDA and the CDC informed Conagra Brands that a sample of Duncan Hines Classic White Cake Mix that contained Salmonella Agbeni matched the Salmonella collected from ill persons reported to the CDC. This was determined through Whole Genome Sequencing, a type of DNA analysis.”
Conagra owns the manufacturing facility that produced the Duncan Hines cake mixes. Investigators from the FDA are collecting test samples of products and environmental samples from the equipment and surfaces in the manufacturing plant. [Other Conagra brands include Hunt’s, Healthy Choice, Marie Callender’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, Slim Jim, Reddi-wip, Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, P.F. Chang’s, Chef Boyardee, Home Menu and Bertolli. Source.]
Both FDA and Conagra officials say consumers should not bake with or eat the recalled cake mixes.
They also are renewing advice against eating uncooked batter, flour, cake mix powder, or anything containing uncooked flour or eggs.
The Conagra recall notice says it distributed the implicated cake mixes to retailers nationwide in the United States and to “limited” international export markets.
“While it has not been definitively concluded that this product is linked to the outbreak and the investigation is still ongoing, Conagra has decided to voluntarily recall the specific Duncan Hines variety identified, Classic White, and three other varieties — Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow — made during the same time period out of an abundance of caution,” the recall notice states.
[Companies that exercise “an abundance of caution” do not produce and ship foods that are contaminated with fecal bacteria. – Editor]
The FDA investigation notice says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of five illnesses. It is likely that additional illnesses will be added to the case count because of the time lag between when a person becomes sick and when the CDC receives confirmed laboratory test results.
Investigators from the CDC are continuing to interview the sick people to determine whether they were exposed to Duncan Hines cake mixes before becoming ill.
Conagra’s recall notice says “several of the individuals reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed these products raw and not baked.”
“Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw batter products, to follow baking instructions, and to never eat raw batter,” Conagra’s notice says. “Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and to return them to the store where originally purchased.”
Consumers with questions can call Conagra at 888-299-7646 or visit www.duncanhines.com. (Coverage continues below … )
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Advice for consumers
- Food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
- Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
- Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized.
- Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
- It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.
Consumers and retailers can identify the recalled cake mixes by looking for the following labeling information:
Republished with permission of Food Safety News. To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.