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More Robin Hood products added to Canada's E. coli flour recall

cbc.ca, by Sophia Harris, June 20, 2017 

Experts once again warn Canadians to never eat raw dough

Canada is getting hit with more flour recalls following an E. coli outbreak. In the latest, Robin Hood's Super Keynote Strong Bakers Flour and Italian Style Flour are being recalled due to possible E. coli O121 contamination. The items were sold at various retailers in Ontario and possibly across Canada.

The news comes on the heels of a recall issued last week for other flour products including cookie dough sold nationally through fundraisers and Apple Valley pie shell products.

The spate of national flour recalls has been ongoing since March, making a long list that includes everything from numerous Robin Hood flour products, to tart shells to pizza dough. 

The recalls were triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as part of its investigation into the E. coli outbreak. 

So far, there have been 30 reported illnesses across the country. One of the victims is two-year-old Brian Hermsen from Grand Forks, B.C. He spent four weeks in the hospital after eating raw cookie dough made with Robin Hood flour.

"I didn't know if he was going to live or die. He's lucky to be alive right now," his mother, Kyla Hermsen, told CBC News.

The outbreak has been linked to a flour mill in Saskatoon owned by Ardent Mills, which makes its own products and supplies other brands such as Robin Hood flour.

But the actual source remains a mystery. The investigation focused on 11 loads of Canadian wheat that were shipped to Ardent Mills. But the CFIA believes the wheat was contaminated in the field.

"We don't know which farm, we don't know what the harvest state was, so it's really hard to definitively pinpoint the source," CFIA's Ken Marcynuk said earlier this month. 

He says that the wheat could have become contaminated because animal feces containing pathogens got into the fertilizer or perhaps the water supply. Or, wild animals wandering in the field could have directly contaminated the wheat with their feces.

CFIA is currently investigating the outbreak to see if it can find a way to mitigate future risks. 

Its also repeating its plea to Canadians to never eat raw dough or batter because raw flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

"Flour is not a ready-to-eat food," said Marcynuk.