January 27, 2023

Holiday Reminder: Raw Dough Can Contain Dangerous Pathogens

It’s time for the annual holiday reminder: raw dough can contain dangerous pathogens. While most people know that eating raw eggs is risky, fewer know that uncooked flour is also a potential hazard.

Holiday Reminder: Raw Dough Can Contain Dangerous Pathogens

The FDA has been warning consumers about the potential dangers of raw eggs for decades. Eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria not only on the shell, but inside the egg itself. Hens can carry the pathogen in their ovaries, so the eggs are then contaminated from the inside out. Always handle raw eggs as if they are contaminated. Cook them thoroughly, and avoid recipes that use raw eggs. Eggs that are pasteurized are safe to eat raw, as long as you follow expiration dates.

There have been outbreaks linked to raw, or uncooked flour, in the past few years. Flour is a raw agricultural product and can be contaminated just like cantaloupe and romaine lettuce.

So when you are baking this holiday season, there are some things to remember. Follow package directions on baking mixes and four containers. Keep flour and eggs away from foods that are eaten uncooked. Refrigerate cookie and pastry dough if you aren’t going to be baking immediately.

Never eat or taste raw dough or cake batter unless it is made with pasteurized eggs and commercial heat-treated flour. Do not make play dough out of raw flour. Don’t use cake mixes to make milkshakes. While there are instructions for heat-treating your flour at home, the FDA doesn’t recommend it, since these treatments may not kill all pathogens. There are several brands of commercial heat-treated flour you can buy. Don’t use raw cookie dough in ice cream.

When you are cleaning up after baking, be sure to clean surfaces thoroughly. Since flour is a powder, it can spread everywhere, including in the kitchen since, on drawer handles, and on the kitchen floor. Wash utensils, bowls, baking pans, the countertop, and cutting boards with warm, soapy water.

Now that you know how to handle raw flour and eggs, you can enjoy your baking this holiday season.

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