E. coli outbreak linked to raw cake mix sparks CDC investigation

E. coli outbreak linked to raw cake mix sparks CDC investigation
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched an investigation into an E. coli outbreak tied to raw cake mix that is believed to have infected several individuals, some of whom have been hospitalized. 

The CDC said in a Wednesday statement that there have been at least 16 people infected with E. coli, all of whom are girls and women ranging in age from 2 to 73, across 12 states.

Seven of those infected from the E. coli outbreak have been hospitalized, with one person developing a form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the CDC. 

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Health officials said that no deaths tied to the outbreak have been recorded. 

According to interviews conducted by state and local health officials, six of the eight infected people interviewed reported tasting or eating raw batter made with cake mix from a variety of brands. 

The CDC said the true number of infections could be higher, given that people may recover without medical care or may not be tested for E. coli and that it usually takes three to four weeks to determine if an ill individual is part of an outbreak. 

The reported cases, which range in start dates from Feb. 26 to June 21, have been found in states across the country, including Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, Iowa, Virginia and Massachusetts. 

The CDC said this week that all people should avoid eating raw cake batter, including flour and store-bought cake mix, which both can contain E. coli when uncooked, leading to food poisoning if consumed. 

Symptoms of an E. coli infection can include bloody diarrhea, a fever higher than 102 degrees, excessive vomiting and dehydration, according to the CDC. 

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The CDC on Wednesday gave instructions on safe handling of raw foods, noting that while “flour doesn’t look like a raw food,” it typically is and that “bacteria are killed only when food made with flour is cooked.”

Raw flour was previously linked to two E. coli outbreaks in 2016 and 2019, infecting more than 80 people, the CDC said. 

The recent outbreak comes as the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Thursday that more than 295,000 pounds of raw beef products from the meat supplier Greater Omaha Packing had been recalled due to E. coli contamination concerns.