War on cookie dough: CDC says raw dough can contain harmful bacteria

Do you like to eat raw cookie dough?

If yes, you may want to think twice about it. Although it's a delicious treat for many who find themselves preparing cookies and baked goods during the holiday season, raw cookie dough may be carrying harmful bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns.

That's due to the untreated flour and raw eggs. The flour may contain E. coli while the raw eggs may contain salmonella. 

From the CDC: 

Flour is typically a raw agricultural product. This means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs like Escherichia coli (E. coli). Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or at other steps as flour is produced. The bacteria are killed when food made with flour is cooked. This is why you should never taste or eat raw dough or batter—whether made from recalled flour or any other flour. In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made 63 people sick. Flour products have long shelf lives and could be in people’s homes for a long time. If you have any recalled flour products in your home, throw them away.

In addition, raw eggs that are used to make raw dough or batter can contain a germ called Salmonella that can make you sick if the eggs are eaten raw or lightly cooked. Eggs are safe to eat when cooked and handled properly.

The CDC also offers these tips for  when you are baking and cooking with flour and other raw ingredients:

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
  • Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
  • Do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream.
    • Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
  • Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough:
    • Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces that they have touched.
    • Wash bowls, utensils, countertops, and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.

     

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