June 30, 2016 — The FDA is warning that that eating raw dough can make you sick with E. coli.
Most people know not to eat raw cookie dough due to the risk of Salmonella in eggs. But a recent outbreak of E. coli has been linked to flour.
On May 31, General Mills recalled about 10 million pounds of flour sold under Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens, and Wondra brands after an outbreak of E. coli sickened 39 people in 20 states.
Now the FDA is warning against eating any products that contain raw flour. Most flour products are milled from grain harvested straight from the field, where they are exposed to cow manure and bird droppings.
Cooking foods to 140ºF kills E. coli, but raw flour does not go through this “kill-step” because it might impact rising.
You should avoid eating raw cookie dough, boxed cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough product that is supposed to be cooked. You can also get sick from cross-contamination in your kitchen.
The FDA warns against “dough crafts” or letting your kids play with homemade play-dough:
“Even if they’re not munching on the dough, they’re putting their hands in their mouth after handling the dough. Childcare facilities and preschools should discourage the practice of playing with raw dough.”
The good news is that it is probably safe to eat ice cream with chunks of cookie dough. Those products are pasteurized and meant to be eaten raw.
However, think twice before nibbling on pre-packaged cookie dough sold in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Nestlé Toll House cookie dough was recalled in 2009 after an E. coli outbreak sickened 76 people in 31 states. The outbreak was blamed on raw flour. No illnesses were linked to Pillsbury cookie dough because General Mills heat-treated the flour, unlike Nestlé.
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