Most people know not to eat raw cookie dough because the eggs might have Salmonella. Now the FDA says raw flour could also be contaminated with E. coli.
Flour comes from grain that grows in a field where it can be contaminated by animal waste. E. coli is often found in the intestines of cows and wild birds.
Cooking food to 140ºF kills E. coli, but most flour does not go through a “kill-step” because it might stop baked goods from rising.
That means you and your kids can get sick from eating raw dough and batter, making crafts out of dough, dusting flour on tortillas or pizza, or cross-contamination in your kitchen.
Parents of young children should be particularly aware — especially kids in daycare or kindergarten, where a common activity is using homemade “play-dough.” The FDA warns:
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 CDC has recently issued a warning about an ongoing outbreak that has sickened at least 38 people in 20 states with Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O121.
Over 10 million pounds of flour made at a General Mills facility in Missouri were recalled on May 31. The products include Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens, and Wondra.
The good news is it should be safe to eat commercially-made cookie dough ice cream that is made to be eaten raw — but avoid nibbling on pre-made cookie dough from the refrigerated section of your market.
In 2009, flour was the prime suspect in an outbreak of E. coli from Nestlé Toll House cookie dough. At least 76 people got sick in 31 states. No illnesses were blamed on Pillsbury cookie dough because General Mills used heat-treated flour.
The most common symptoms of E. coli infection are severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea that may be bloody. Around 5-10% of cases lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that primarily affects people with weak immune systems.
Source: Fox News