Aldi shoppers may have heard the recent news that the popular grocery chain has recalled flour in 11 states due to possible E.coli contamination. Concerns are now growing for pregnant women who may be baking with or consuming raw flour.
According to What To Expect, 17 people in a total of eight states (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia) have currently been affected after eating, licking or tasting (according to interviews conducted by the CDC) Aldi's Baker's Corner All-Purpose Flour in the form of raw dough or batter. Three of the affected individuals sought hospitalization starting in mid-December, and reports of illness due to consuming raw flour have been noted as recently as late April.
When it comes to pregnant women and food items that could be considered dangerous, there are typically two categories: food items that have controversial or questionable concerns (such as pineapple), and food items that most people can agree should be avoided by pregnant women (such as sushi and undercooked meat). With the latest news taken into consideration, it seems that raw flour should be added to the latter category.
Flour seems like an innocent food product, but bacteria that causes serious illness can be found in raw flour. This is because flour comes from a grain that's processed dry from the field which it was sourced. Bacteria can be present in the flour, and dry-processing doesn't kill any possibly present bacteria. Killing the bacteria can only be done by baking, heating, boiling the flour. But of course, none of these steps are taken when it comes to dry, raw flour.
Sadly, those yummy "no-bake" cookies won't be a safe treat to eat; and this goes double for pregnant women. Symptoms of E.coli illnesses can include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, and even bloody diarrhea. But these symptoms are on a smaller scale compared to what pregnant women suffering from E.coli experience. Their symptoms are much worse because natural immune defenses won't be present during pregnancy. Consuming raw flour that contains harmful bacteria can be life-threatening for the unborn baby.
A good rule of thumb for moms-to-be who bake is to think of raw flour as raw meat when handling it. This means proper sanitation should be a top priority to ensure no cross-contaminate, as well as practicing proper hand-washing techniques. To be as safe as possible, it's recommended to avoid raw flour especially during pregnancy.
Here's to your health!