CDC Kills Christmas Fun: Raw Cookies May Have Salmonella, E. Coli
As Christmas cookie-baking season reaches its zenith, the federal Centers for Disease Control is cracking down on what is a time-honored tradition: licking the mixer beaters, spatula and the bowl to get every last bite of its tasty goodness. That’s because cookie dough contains raw eggs and untreated flour, which the CDC said can cause life-threatening E. coli or salmonella infections.
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“Say no to raw dough,” the agency warns. As much as you may be tempted to say “bah humbug!” to the warning, E. coli and salmonella aren’t holiday visitors you want in your home. Salmonella, found in raw eggs, kills about 450 people a year, and E. coli, which can be found in flour, is responsible for about 30 deaths annually.
So, no matter how much kids and adults may clamor to be the one who gets to lick the spatula — you know you’ve done this at least once — make them wait until the cookies come out of the oven. Some commercially sold cookie dough may be safe to eat if it isn’t made with eggs or if the flour has been heat-treated to kill bacteria.
Flour is typically a raw agricultural product, which means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs like E. coli that can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or during other steps as it is processed, the CDC said. Flour products have a long shelf life, so make sure what you’re baking with isn’t among one of the flour products recalled in 2016 after they were linked to an outbreak that sickened 63 people.
That recall included not only flour, but bread, cookie and brownie, muffin, and pancake and biscuit mixes. If you have any of the products still in your home, toss them, the CDC said. Check the full list here.
Eggs can contain the salmonella germ, which can make people sick if they’re eaten raw or only lightly cooked.
Infections related to the salmonella and E. coli germs are dreadful. E. coli infections can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Salmonella infection symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea, and it can cause life-threatening diseases.
The CDC also recommends the following practices while baking and cooking with flour, eggs and other raw ingredients: