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. 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 … [Read more...]

Again, Just Say No to Raw Dough During the Holidays

It's that time of the year again. People bake a lot during the holiday season, so it's time for another reminder: Just say no to raw dough. It's important that consumers not eat raw dough or batter of any kind unless the dough is made with pasteurized eggs and heat treated flour. Don't even taste a tiny amount. Those two ingredients can be contaminated with potentially deadly pathogens and in fact have caused many illnesses. Raw cookie dough and raw cake batter are the biggest culprits, but homemade play dough and play clay made with flour has also made children sick. Eggs are often contaminated with Salmonella bacteria; in fact, hens can carry the pathogen inside their ovaries. That means the eggs are contaminated on the inside so washing them won't help. And uncooked flour is a … [Read more...]

Two Good Reasons to Avoid Raw Cookie Dough: Salmonella and E. coli

Most everyone, by now, knows that food safety experts say you should avoid raw cookie dough or cake batter, because of the possibility of food poisoning. The two culprits in those foods are raw flour and raw eggs. Studies have shown that both of those ingredients can and have been contaminated with pathogens. Flour can be contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella bacteria  (an E. coli outbreak that is happening right now is linked to flour) and raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. But are these foods contaminated often enough to be a problem? The answer is yes, even though only a small percentage of raw flour and raw eggs may be contaminated. These pathogens have what scientists call "low infective doses," which means that just a few bacteria can make you very sick. … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers: Raw Cookie Dough Edition

Last week, an editor for Slate magazine, L.V. Anderson, wrote an article entitled: "Salmonella and raw eggs: How I've eaten tons of cookie dough and never gotten sick". In it, she says that she has eaten about 360 raw eggs in her lifetime and has never contracted a Salmonella infection. From that, she infers that raw cookie dough is not really dangerous. This story is full of logical fallacies. First, she is committing the logical fallacy of a small sample size: herself. Extrapolating from her personal experiences to the entire nation is extremely foolish. The plural of anecdote is not data. In addition, she may have gotten sick from eating a Salmonella-contaminated egg, but didn't even know it. The incubation period for these infections is up to three days, so she most likely did … [Read more...]

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