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FDA Warning: Don't Eat Raw Cookie Dough

Image: FDA Warning: Don't Eat Raw Cookie Dough

Wednesday, 29 Jun 2016 05:08 PM

Many people like to pop a bite of uncooked cookie dough into their mouth while baking but this habit could make you sick, health officials are warning.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the warning against eating raw cookie dough following an outbreak of infections across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local health officials, joined in as well.

Most people are aware that raw eggs, which are used in the making of raw dough, raise the risk of salmonella, a type of food poisoning. But they may be unaware that uncooked flour can harbor E. coli , which is another dangerous bacterium, says Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods.

“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria. So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour,” Smoot says.

Common “kill steps” applied during food preparation and/or processing (so-called because they kill bacteria that cause infections) include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving, and frying. But with raw dough, no kill step has been used.

The warning was prompted because dozens of people across the country have been sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121, the FDA says.

As a result of the investigation, General Mills conducted a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of flour sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s, and Gold Medal Wondra. The varieties include unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flours. Flour has a long shelf life, and many people store bags of flour for a long time. If people have any of these recalled items in your home, they should be discarded, the FDA says.

In addition, the FDA also warns against making homemade cookie dough ice cream, and advises the purchase of commercially made products. Manufacturers should use ingredients that include treated flour and pasteurized eggs.

Restaurants sometimes provide children with cookie dough to use as clay, so parents should make sure that this isn’t ingested as well, the  FDA notes.

Here are the FDA’s safety tips for the safe handling of cookie dough:

  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
  • Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.

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A string of food poisoning incidents has the FDA warning against the eating raw cookie dough because it can make people sick.
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Wednesday, 29 Jun 2016 05:08 PM
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