Have you seen the e-mail circulating about the danger of outdated cake mixes?

Have you seen the e-mail circulating about the danger of outdated cake mixes?

It’s taglined:

“Warning cake mixes — Who knew ??”

I got it last week. It tells the tale of a high school student who made pancakes for breakfast. Unbeknownst to him, the mix was outdated. He suffered a respiratory attack at school that day and almost died.

The story is that baking mixes and cake mixes contain yeast, and if they sit unused for too long, the yeast develops into toxic spores, which are deadly.

It goes on to say that a consumer asked Duncan Hines if two-month old cake mixes were still good and was told “in no uncertain words to throw them all out ... to open the boxes and throw the mix in the garbage, just in case someone picked it up and used it.”

What worried me most is that the e-mail said the story was verified on www.snopes.com, a website that digs into urban legends.  

I called the Duncan Hines hotline. They know about the e-mail, all right.

“Yes, we have heard the story before and want everybody to know that our products are not out there harming you,” the consumer rep told me.

Here’s one reason it can’t be true of Duncan Hines products: “We do not have yeast in any of our products,” the rep said.

You might want to toss outdated cake mixes for one reason, she said. Freshness. “The cake might not rise correctly,” she said.

I also checked out the story on Snopes. The site says there is truth in the tale but that “the warning is overblown.” There have been a few documented cases of sickness and death, but the victims had severe mold allergies and ate two-year-old mixes exposed to mold.

Not only did the Duncan Hines rep ease my fears, she sent me a coupon in the mail for 35 cents off my next cake mix.

Toxic cake mixes? Consider this myth debunked.