May 26, 2024

FDA Warns Against Eating Raw Dough Because of the Risk of E. coli HUS

The FDA is issuing a warning to consumers not to eat raw dough because of health risks of contracting an E. coli HUS infection. Eating any raw dough or batter can make you sick because of raw eggs and raw flour. Eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria, and, surprisingly, raw flour can contain pathogenic E. coli bacteria.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Raw Dough E. coli

In fact, there was a large E. coli O121 and O26 outbreak linked to General Mills flour just last year in the U.S. At least 63 people in 24 states were sickened; seventeen people were hospitalized because their illnesses were so severe, and one person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

And don’t make homemade play dough made with raw dough. Kids often put their fingers in their mouths, and touching this dough may expose them to pathogenic bacteria.

In the 2016 outbreak, investigators found that raw dough eaten or handled by some of the patients was made with the recalled General Mills flour. The FDA found the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria in the flour and at a General Mills production facility. Ten million pounds of flour were recalled.

Dr. Leslie Smoot, a senior advisor in the FDA’s Office of Food Safety, and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods said, “Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria.” If an animal poops in a wheat field, bacteria in that waste could contaminate the grain, which is harvested and milled. Milling is not considered a “kill step” that kills pathogens.

Kill steps when preparing food include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving, and frying. No kill step is used for cookie dough, cake batter, homemade play dough, and bread dough.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened with STEC infections and HUS, said, “All parents should be aware that raw dough is a significant health risk to their child.”┬áCall 1-888-377-8900.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include painful and severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery, and a mild fever. The bacteria produce Shiga toxins, which can travel through the bloodstream and destroy red blood cells. Those destroyed cells can clog small tubes in the kidneys, causing that organ to shut down.

Public health officials want to make sure that parents of young children understand this risk. Make sure that your school or daycare is aware of this issue and do not offer play dough made with raw flour.

To protect yourself and your family, do not eat raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other product that should be baked or cooked before consumption. Follow package directions for cooking products containing raw flour. Wash your hands, work surfaces, bowls, and utensils thoroughly with soap and water after they come into contact with flour and raw dough. And follow directions to chill raw dough products after purchase.

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