Boxed cake mixes are usually pretty straightforward. You pick one up from the store, choosing your favorite flavor. At home, you mix it with water or milk and a couple of eggs, then pop it into the oven. In just a little while, you have a cake in whatever flavor you can imagine, from red velvet to Funfetti.
Most people also think that boxed cake mixes are safer than versions that are made from scratch. After all, companies do rigorous safety testing to make sure boxed foods are safe to eat. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get sick from a boxed cake mix.
Watch out for those classic red boxes.
Duncan Hines announced a recall of several flavors on Nov. 5 after finding that several batches of its cake mix may be contaminated with salmonella.
Even though only the Classic White Cake Mix has tested positive for the bacteria, the company is being proactive. It is also recalling the Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti, and Classic Yellow Cake Mixes to be extra cautious. The recalled cake mixes have expiration dates from early to mid-March 2019. They have now been pulled from store shelves, and customers are urged to return them for a refund.
“We are recalling these products out of an abundance of caution and always encourage consumers to follow baking instructions provided,” said a spokesperson for the company.
Five people have reported becoming ill after consuming the cake mix.
Salmonella probably won’t be serious, but it isn’t fun.
Salmonella is a rare but serious illness that occurs after eating contaminated food. It is most often found in raw meat and eggs but can also occur in other foods. People who are affected most often suffer from severe stomach cramps. They can also have extreme symptoms of food poisoning, including vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.
While salmonella is not serious for most people, it can potentially become serious due to dehydration. In extreme cases, salmonella can also spread into the bloodstream, causing infection in the brain, spinal cord, veins and arteries, heart, bones, or marrow.
In this case, the bad news is sometimes good news.
Food recalls happen routinely in the United States. That seems scary, but it’s actually good news. It means that companies are diligent about monitoring their products and recalling them if there is evidence of contamination.
Most recalls don’t come anywhere near the outbreak of 2010.
Salmonella isn’t the only contaminant that causes companies to pull food from shelves, but it was the cause of the biggest one in U.S. history. In 2010, a massive outbreak caused two Iowa egg producers to recall more than half a billion eggs. It led to massive lawsuits for two companies, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, and sickened 60,000 people around the United States. Thankfully, no deaths were reported.
The outbreak started just before the FDA implemented new egg safety laws.
“We would certainly characterize this as one of the largest shell egg recalls in recent history,” Sherri McGarry of the FDA said at the time. “The outbreak could have been prevented. The egg safety rule is in a phase-in approach, but there are measures that would have been in place that could have prevented this if it [had] been placed earlier than in July.”
The 2010 outbreak wasn’t exactly straightforward for another reason. In the subsequent lawsuits, Quality Egg LLC, which owned the two companies responsible for the tainted eggs, was found to have committed several felonies that compromised the safety of its products.
With most recalls, no one is to blame.
Most food recalls aren’t quite that sinister. Instead, they happen because of human error or accidental cross-contamination. As soon as a company learns that people are reporting ill after consuming one of its products, it submits its work area and products to rigorous testing. After all, companies don’t want to risk lawsuits or make anyone else ill. Once the company finds the source of the outbreak, it announces a recall of all the affected products. The FDA also posts the recall to make sure that as many as possible are aware of it.
If it’s in your kitchen, don’t risk it.
Like most other companies, Duncan Hines is making a concentrated effort to make sure no one else gets sick after consuming its products. Anyone with one of these cake mixes in their pantry is urged to check the variety and expiration date. If they have one of the affected mixes produced in the matching time frame, customers should bring them back to the store for a refund without opening or consuming them.
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