Cookie lovers warned to stop eating raw dough amid salmonella outbreak: CDC

Got dough?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged consumers to stop eating raw cookie dough after a national salmonella outbreak hospitalized three people.

“Flour doesn’t look like a raw food, but most flour is raw,” the CDC wrote in a report updated Thursday.

The agency explained that raw, or unbaked, flour used to make baked goods such as cookies could be contaminated with salmonella germs, a type of bacteria that causes foodborne illness and leads to upset stomach, fever, chills, vomiting and cramps.

When the flour is cooked or baked in an oven, the germs are killed by the high temperatures — but consuming uncooked dough could result in food poisoning in both children and adults.

Raw flour is not processed to remove germs that could be present, meaning uncooked flour could contain harmful bacteria until baked.
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The Mayo Clinic notes that eggs, also typically found in cookie dough, can be contaminated with bacteria, as can various raw meats and seafood, fruits, vegetables and unpasteurized dairy products.

The current outbreak has caused 12 reported illnesses across 11 states as officials attempt to find the source of the contamination.

The CDC reported that the illnesses occurred between December 2022 and February 2023.

“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” the CDC wrote, noting that it takes three to four weeks to determine if an illness stems from an outbreak. “This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella.

Cracking raw eggs
Other foods — such as eggs, seafood, meat, vegetables and fruit — could become contaminated with E. coli or salmonella.
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Upon further investigation, CDC researchers found that the bacteria making people ill were “closely related genetically,” meaning that the patients could have been eating the same contaminated foods.

“Most people reported eating raw dough or batter made with flour before they got sick,” the agency said.

On Thursday, Consumer Reports listed flour as one of the top 10 foods most likely to cause food poisoning.

The CDC has warned those with a sweet tooth to refrain from eating raw cookie dough before.

Multiple reports of foodborne illness outbreaks, such as those caused by E. coli, have been linked to consuming raw flour in the past.

Researcher testing petri dish
The CDC said they are investigating the root of the problem, attempting to single out a single brand of flour or source.
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Popular food brands have recalled products over concerns of contamination.

In 2019, General Mills removed its flour from the shelves over fears their product could contain salmonella.

At home, thorough hand washing after handling raw dough and proper baking of batter can prevent foodborne illness, as well as washing any bowls or utensils that come in contact with the raw flour.

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