Why you shouldn't eat cookie dough
Find it hard to resist gobbling up that last piece of raw dough when making cookies? Or do you let your children scrape the bowl? Well, that could be a problem, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has issued a warning over eating raw dough or batter - whether it's for bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas - claiming that it can make you very sick.
Jenny Scott, a senior advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, cautions that it is not only the raw egg that can cause illness such as salmonella, but the uncooked flour too. Regardless of the brand, flour can contain bacteria that cause disease, such as particularly harmful strains of E.coli. The FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, is investigating an outbreak of infections that illustrates the dangers of eating raw dough. Dozens of people across the U.S. have been sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121, the organisation claims. Symptoms of the infection include diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week but some illnesses may be more severe and lead to a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome. 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, with the company conducting a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of flour sold under three brand names.
"Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria," said Dr Leslie Smoot, a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety. "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."
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.
And don’t make homemade cookie dough ice cream either. If that’s your favourite flavour, buy commercially made products, as manufactures should use ingredients that include treated flour and pasteurised eggs.
Other food safety tips from the FDA include:
- Do not eat any type of raw cookie dough, other type of dough, cake mix or batter that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
- Follow package directions for temperatures and cooking times for products containing flour.
- After using flour or raw dough wash your hands, cooking surfaces and utensils thoroughly.
- Keep raw foods separate from other foods while cooking or baking to prevent contamination.
- Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough until they are baked.