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Eating raw dough can make you sick, FDA warns

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Silver Spring, MD – When you’re baking cookies or making a cake, do you or your kids lick the bowl or spoon? If so, the Food and Drug Administration wants you to know that eating or handling raw dough or batter can lead to illness.

Disease-causing bacteria can lurk in the flour used to make dough or batter, FDA warns. “Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” Leslie Smoot, a senior advisor in the agency’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods, said in a press release.

FDA has received reports of people becoming sick after they ate or handled raw dough containing flour made in November 2015 at a General Mills facility in Kansas City, MO. The company recalled 10 million pounds of flour, including unbleached, all-purpose and self-rising types.

Salmonella and E. coli are among the bacteria that can be found in raw dough, the agency cautions. Symptoms of E. coli include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and – in severe cases – kidney failure.

FDA offers the following guidance:

  • Never eat raw dough, cake mix or batter.
  • If using packaged mixes, follow the label directions for cooking temperature and time for products that contain flour. For pre-packaged dough, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping the dough cold until it’s baked.
  • Wash hands, surfaces and utensils after they touch flour and raw dough products.
  • Separate raw food from other food to avoid contamination. Know that flour can easily be spread because it’s powdery.
  • Don’t let children play with raw dough, and avoid making cookie dough ice cream. Instead, buy ice cream made by manufacturers and look for treated flour and pasteurized eggs in the ingredients.

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