Contaminated Flour Hospitalizes More than Thirty People

August 27, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. recall /rɪˈkɔl/ (v.) – to get back items that have been released
Example: The company recalled defective products.

2. outbreak /ˈaʊtˌbreɪk/ (n.) – sudden spread of a disease
Example: There is an outbreak of yellow fever in Congo.

3. contaminate /kənˈtæm əˌneɪt/ (v.) – to make something dirty
Example: The fruits were contaminated by animal waste.

4. exposure /ɪkˈspoʊ ʒər/ (n.) – the state of being open to something
ExampleExposure to contaminated food can make you sick.

5. severe /səˈvɪər/ (adj.) – critical
Example: He suffered from severe burns after being scalded with hot water.


Read the text below.
Consumption of contaminated flour caused more than 30 people in the United States to get sick.

Ten million pounds of General Mills flour have been recalled due to E. coli O121 outbreak. E. coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans and animals. Most of the time, it is harmless, but there are certain strains that can cause sickness, such as Shiga, a toxin-producing E. coli O121 that was found in General Mills flour.

According to Jenny Scott, a senior adviser from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, flour does not easily get contaminated because it is dry and not usually associated with pathogenic bacteria. Investigators concluded that the flour grain probably came in contact with animal waste, thus contaminating the flour.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, mild fever, and fatigue. These usually begin three to four days after exposure, but at times it can begin as early as the first day of exposure or as late as seven days. Severe infections that last longer can lead to kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This is most common among people with weaker immune systems, like young children and the elderly.

The FDA advises preventive measures in handling food. These include having them sealed in an air-tight container and stored in a dry place. When preparing food, washing one’s hands and the utensils to be used is very important. Raw food should also be separated from other food to avoid contamination.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think General Mills should be penalized? Why?
·         Do you think General Mills will be able to recover from this incident? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How can a country’s food regulatory board ensure that food products are free from contamination?
·         In your country, what is done to regulate cleanliness of food?

August 27, 2016