Coli And The General Mills Outbreak Essay

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Introduction to E. Coli and the General Mills Outbreak.
After reports of foodborne illnesses were observed from December 21, 2015 to September 5, 2016, the FDA initiated investigations which led to a trace back to the source of the outbreak which were various flours manufactured by General Mills. After the trace back, in May 2016, General Mills led a voluntary recall of its flour due to the presence of pathogens E. coli O121 and E. coli O26.
E. coli O121 and O26 are toxin-producing Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) that are gram-negative and rod-shaped as can be seen in figure 1 below. Although most E. coli are harmless and are found naturally in the gastrointestinal tracts of mammals, however, E. coli O121 and O26 are pathogenic, meaning they can cause illness.

Figure 1: Microbial Structure of a general E. coli bacteria.

According to the bad bug book, the incubation period for these pathogens range from 2 to 8 days after consumption of the contaminated product. After consumption, symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps develop which are often overcome by healthy adults within a week. However, the most susceptible and vulnerable of the population, immunocompromised people, may experience more severe consequences such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
In this particular case, due to the nature of the product, the long shelf life of flour and the tendency for consumers to store the product for long periods before consumption, it is most likely that
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