The agency says that flour isn’t treated to kill foodborne pathogens like E. coli and other harmful germs before being distributed to the public. In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour sickened at least 63 people across the U.S. Signs and symptoms of E. coli include severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. E. coli causes about 30 deaths each year in the U.S., CDC said.
Raw eggs in batter can also cause salmonella poisoning, whose symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Salmonella also can lead to other life-threatening diseases in some cases, CDC said. About 450 people in the U.S. die each year from complications related to salmonella infection, according to the agency.
CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are teaming up to get the word out to consumers to avoid handling raw flour – including children who might play with raw dough or use raw flour in arts and craft activities. When baking, the agencies say to wash hands frequently between handling raw ingredients.
FDA offers the following additional tips on how to handle food safely this holiday season:
- 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.
Source: USA TODAY