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In a warning that's sure to disappoint many who enjoy sneaking a taste of cookie dough, federal regulators said this week that people should not eat raw dough or batter of any kind because of an ongoing outbreak of illnesses related to a strain of E. coli bacteria found in some recalled flour. Raw dough also should not be used for homemade play clay for children or to make ornaments, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Restaurants are being advised by the Centers for Disease Control to refrain from giving children raw dough to play with while they wait for their meals. The flour in question is among 10 million pounds voluntarily recalled last month by General Mills, the FDA said. It comes from a General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri, that the CDC pinpointed earlier this month as the likely source for dozens of illnesses in 20 states related to a strain of E. coli. General Mills says a sample of the recalled flour tested positive for the E. coli strain. Many people infected with the bacteria suffer bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Kidney failure is also possible. At least 10 people have been hospitalized due to the outbreak. No deaths have been reported. Anyone handling raw dough or flour should wash their hands and anything the ingredients touched, the FDA advised. The agency said the E. coli bacteria can be killed once food is baked, boiled or otherwise heated during preparation. Despite the recently announced recall, eating raw dough has always carried the risk of salmonella poisoning due to the presence of raw eggs. Those looking to get their fix may want to turn to commercially-made cookie dough ice cream, which the FDA says should be made with treated flour and pasteurized eggs.

The search for a missing 84-year-old Leesburg woman is now a homicide investigation, police said Thursday. "As a result of the evidence and information gathered through the investigative process, detectives are reclassifying the Bernadine Montgomery case from a missing person to an open homicide investigation," said Lt. Joe Iozzi, of the Leesburg Police Department. Information regarding the types of evidence or persons involved in the determination aren't being released at this time, Iozzi said. Montgomery was last seen Wednesday, June 15, at a home on the 100 block of Palmora Boulevard. Her 2005 blue Chevrolet four-door vehicle was also missing, but police found the vehicle abandoned at a nearby park. Montgomery was reported missing Wednesday, June 22. Jeremy David Gentry, 43, was arrested Thursday, June 23, on charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle. According to an arrest affidavit, a witness who lives near Montgomery's home noticed a man, who has since been identified as Gentry, driving the missing woman's vehicle. A registered co-owner of the vehicle was contacted and said Gentry didn't have permission to be in possession of the vehicle, a report states. "(Gentry) confirmed that he had not received permission from the missing female to possess the vehicle, and when asked with regard to what had happened to her and where she was currently located, he claimed that he did not remember, citing his use of illegal narcotics," an arrest affidavit states. Gentry is being held on no bond, according to Lake County jail records. Detectives have searched multiple undisclosed locations to try and locate Montgomery. They will continue to interview persons of interest, as well. Anyone with information on Montgomery's whereabouts is asked to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).
 
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