FDA: Step away from the raw cookie dough

Healthy Living

FDA: Step away from the raw cookie dough

Our childhoods were filled with dangers.

You didn’t wear seatbelts and rode between our parents on the bench seats.

There were no AMBER Alerts, and we often disappeared for hours on our bikes without cellphones.

You ate raw cookie dough or batter in the kitchen.

Man, how times have changed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in a new consumer update this week, gave its strongest warning yet about the dangers of consuming products containing raw flour — including bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas.

Eating these products can make you and your kids sick, according to Jenny Scott, a senior adviser in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

How?

We’ve long known that raw eggs can contain salmonella, which can be very dangerous. And that has led to warnings about eating raw cookie dough.

But flour, regardless of the brand, can also contain bacteria that cause disease. The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials are investigating an outbreak of infections that illustrates the dangers of eating raw dough. Dozens of people across the country have been sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121.

The investigation found that raw dough eaten or handled by some of the patients was made with General Mills flour produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, facility. Subsequent tests by the FDA linked bacteria in a flour sample to bacteria from people who had become ill.

The FDA offers these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:

  • 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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