(CBS) – There are at least three E. coli cases in the Chicago region linked to a national recall of General Mills flour.

Thirty-eight people across 20 states have been sickened by the bacteria. Illinois is tied at the top of the list, with one case each in Chicago, suburban Cook County and McHenry County.

“Flour is in everything. It’s in everything we eat, virtually,” says Nirav D. Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The cases reported in Illinois spanned late December to late April, with patients ranging from teens to the elderly, he said.

National researchers linked this strain to particular types of General Mills flour, including Gold Medal and Signature Kitchens brands sold at Jewel.

CBS 2 check shelves at a South Loop Jewel store, which had removed the recalled flour brands.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s amateur chefs aren’t taking any chances.

“I refuse to buy any until this recall is straightened out,” Ed Orsini says.

The key to being safe, General Mills says, is the “use by” date.

And for people who put flour in a bin and toss the bag? Trash that too, health experts say.