January 21, 2022

Yearly Reminder: Don’t Eat Raw Cookie Dough or Cake Batter!

The holiday baking season has begun, and it’s time for the yearly reminder: don’t eat raw cookie dough or cake batter! There are two specific ingredients in those recipes that can make you very sick: raw flour and raw eggs.

Yearly Reminder: Don't Eat Raw Cookie Dough or Cake Batter!

The only way to destroy those pathogens is with heat. Pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes are destroyed when they are heated to 160°F.

While it may seem counterintuitive that a dry product such as flour can contain pathogens, flour is a raw agricultural product. It can be contaminated in the field, during harvest, or transport, or during processing just like leafy greens or other produce.

There have been many recalls of flour for pathogen contamination, and several serious multistate outbreaks linked to that product. E. coli outbreaks linked to flour were reported in 2019 and 2021 (through cake mix). Flour can be contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella bacteria.

And because flour is a finely divided solid, it can drift anywhere in the kitchen and land on surfaces, other foods, and even you. It’s really important to clean your kitchen carefully after you work with flour. Wipe down all surfaces with soapy water. And wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw flour and raw doughs and batters.

Raw eggs are often contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. In fact, the pathogen can be on the inside of the egg because the hen’s ovaries may be contaminated. So even using clean, untracked eggs in your cooking and baking may not protect your against illness.

All recipes containing eggs must be cooked to 160°F and that temperature should be tested with a reliable and accurate food thermometer. Wash your hands and kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water after using eggs too.

Also, do not make homemade play dough using flour. Buy dough for crafts. And don’t make milkshakes that use raw four or cake mix. Follow label instructions for products like store bought cookie dough.

Some companies do make edible cookie dough and heat treated flour that you can use. And you can find pasteurized eggs at the grocery store. So if you just can’t resist tasting your baked goods before they are baked, you can do that and stay safe.

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