Bad news for lovers of cookie dough, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidelines advising fans of the sweat treat to stop eating it due to its potential health risks.
The news comes following an investigation by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into an outbreak of infections caused by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121.
The investigation has found that the infected patients ate or handled raw dough that was made with General Mills flour produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, facility, resulting in General Mills voluntary recalling 10 million pounds of flour sold under three of its brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen's, and Gold Medal Wondra.
Some people may already be cautious about eating raw dough due to the inclusion of eggs and their association with Salmonella, but the FDA are now alerting consumers to the additional potential risks of flour, which can include particularly harmful strains of bacteria such as E. coli.
According to the FDA's Jenny Scott, eating raw dough or batter in all its forms -- whether it's for cookies, bread, pizza or tortillas -- could make you and your family sick, with the FDA advising every member of the family to stop eating and even playing with the mixture.
As well as the dough the organization also advises parents to not give children baking mixes that contain flour.
The FDA also advises to abstain from including raw homemade cookie dough in homemade ice cream either, advising consumer to instead buy commercially made products.
For those still wanting to use dough in their cooking and baking bacteria can be killed during food preparation by methods such as boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving, and frying.
How to handle foods safely
FDA offers these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:
- 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.