The Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating a Salmonella Infantis outbreak which has been linked to raw flour. This outbreak has resulted in 12 recorded illnesses and three hospitalizations across 11 states, however, there are likely many more unrecorded illnesses. Most people who became ill reported eating raw dough or batter made with flour. FDA investigators have initiated traceback, flour processing facility inspections, and sampling to try to identify the specific culprit.

There have been numerous recalls linked to E. coli or Salmonella contamination in raw flour. In June 2019, the FDA recalled six different lots of King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour for potential contamination with E. coli. Earlier that year, General Mills recalled its Gold Medal unbleached flour due to potential contamination with Salmonella. In 2016, General Mills’ flours were part of another large outbreak and recall due to contamination with E. coli O121 and E. coli O26. This outbreak resulted in 63 reported illnesses and 17 hospitalizations across 24 states.

Food is not sterile, and flour is no exception. Wheat usually becomes contaminated with pathogens from animal feces during the plant’s growth or harvest. Salmonella is usually found in the gastrointestinal tract of birds and reptiles, while pathogenic E. coli can be found in the gastrointestinal tracts of people and ruminants such as elk, deer and cattle.