The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a reminder on the safe usage and proper handling of flour. Flour comes from grain, which is grown in fields. In the fields, the grain may become contaminated through direct contact with bacteria from:
Flour is a raw ingredient meant to be cooked before it is eaten. Common “kill steps” that are often used during food processing will kill bacteria that may be present in raw flour. Kill steps include:
Raw flour may be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli. People infected with E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms.
Some people do not get sick at all, although they can still spread the infection to others. Others may get an upset stomach or become seriously ill and need to go to the hospital.
Common symptoms of E. coli can appear within 1 to 10 days after contact with the bacteria. Symptoms include:
severe stomach cramps
watery or bloody diarrhea
Most symptoms go away within 5 to 10 days without needing to see a healthcare provider.
Safety tips when handling flour
Follow these tips to avoid illness when handling flour:
Bake or cook items made with raw dough or batter before eating them
do not taste raw dough, batter, or any other product containing uncooked flour, such as cake mix, as eating even a small amount could make you sick
do not use raw flour in non-baked goods or a non-baked product, such as children’s play-dough
always use hot water and soap to wash any:
surfaces that flour was used on
Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately after touching:
Best practices for cooking with flour
When cooking with flour, you should:
Avoid cross-contamination by:
keeping raw foods, including flour products, separate from other foods while preparing them
using separate bowls, measuring cups and utensils to keep flour, raw dough and raw batter separate from ready-to-eat food
bake or cook items that contain flour, including flour used for thickening
not add flour to foods that will not be cooked, such as milkshakes and ice cream mixes
follow package directions on products such as cake mixes for proper cooking temperatures and specified times