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This Shocking Baking Ingredient Caused 400 People to Fall Sick at Once

You may not realize that the CDC calls it one of the foods most commonly associated with food poisoning.

The thought of food poisoning tends to make you think about poultry (like this Salmonella-contaminated supermarket chicken), eggs, maybe some spoiled dairy products. Recent reports continue to show that there's still a lot for many of us to learn about preventing food poisoning. That seems true from one new update, as 400 people were hospitalized after consuming an ingredient you probably don't associate with foodborne illness.

The India Times recently reported that 400 people in Delhi simultaneously raced to seek medical care after they'd all come down with illness, reporting symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. Investigations discovered what they all had in common: They'd consumed buckwheat or buckwheat flour. It's said buckwheat or its flour is a popular meal choice during some Indian religious festivals when fasting is part of the observances.

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The report states that authorities believe the buckwheat had been "adulterated." It seems the flour's maker may have added an ingredient which may have been meant to increase the supply, but that made the flour impure. The same source stated that legal authorities were going to follow up with the mill that produced the grain for tracing purposes. The source reports that two similar mass food poisoning situations happened due to flour in 2011 and 2020 during major festivals.

The story raises a reminder that we usually don't think of in this part of the world: Flour is among the top 10 foods that are "frequently associated with food poisoning or foodborne illness," advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC explains: "Flour is typically a raw agricultural product that hasn't been treated to kill germs. Bacteria are killed when food made with flour is cooked. That's why you should never taste raw dough or batter." They also cite 2016 and 2019 E. coli outbreaks from flour that made more than 80 people sick.

The CDC also advises: "Flour and baking mixes that contain flour have long shelf lives, so it's a good idea to check your pantry to see if you have any flour or baking mixes that have been recalled in recent years. If you have any recalled flour or baking mixes, throw them away."

Raise your food safety game by subscribing to our newsletter, and keep reading:

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more
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