With the holidays coming up, everyone may feel a little bit tempted to nibble on some raw cookie dough while making yummy treats. However, you may want to think twice before you do it.
While most people are aware of the dangers of raw eggs, which may contain salmonella, recent research has found a new dangerous bacteria. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that raw flour can carry E. coli, which can cause extreme intestinal problems when ingested. The bacteria are normally found in meats and other moist environments, but is proven to be found in raw flour as well.
The study reported a total of 56 cases of E. coli from December 21, 2015 to September 6, 2016 in 24 different states across the country. Only 17 of the victims needed to be hospitalized.
Despite this outbreak being over, researchers still want people to know that these types of bacteria can be found in raw flour and other foods.
So while many people don’t see the harm in tasting a bit of raw cookie dough, it can actually be quite dangerous. Unbaked, room-temperature cookie dough is dangerous because it’s at the perfect temperature for bacteria to grow. However, cold temperatures can stop harmful bacteria from growing. Because of this, the dough should be kept in a refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or a freezer below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
“We’re not trying to ruin people’s holidays but we want them to be aware of the risks,” stated Samuel J. Crowe, the lead author of the study and an epidemiologist with the division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the New York Times.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection can include nausea, stomach pains, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and dehydration. Experts recommend that you see a doctor right away if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms after handling flour products.
In order to keep yourself, family, and guests safe from foodborne illnesses, experts recommend following these four safety food measures: clean, chill, separate, and cook.
Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling any food products. Additionally, it’s important to remember to wash all surfaces, like cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops, that come in contact with food.
The refrigerator is a safe place to store foods before and after cooking. Additionally, it’s a great place to thaw frozen meat because it stays at a consistent temperature. Because not everybody can afford a $60,000 refrigerated trailer, make sure your fridge is cleaned out and has plenty of room to store all of your holiday food. It’s important to remember to never defrost food at room temperature to avoid allowing bacteria to grow.
When working with raw eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood, it’s important to keep them away from foods that don’t need to be cooked. Make sure different utensils and surfaces are used for each type of food. Keeping these foods separate will reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
The best way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. Each food has its own safe temperature, which you should be aware of when cooking. When the food is hot enough to kill bacteria, that is when it’s safe to eat.
So remember, safety is key this holiday if you want to avoid getting sick. Stay away from raw cookie dough and see a doctor immediately if you think you’ve contracted a bacterial infection.