FDA warns consumers that eating raw cookie dough could cause illness

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that eating raw cookie dough could expose them to salmonella. Additionally, the administration said there are risks associated with the consumption of raw dough, such as particularly harmful strains of E. coli in a product such as flour.  The FDA said in press release that flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria. Common “kill steps” applied during food preparation and/or processing (so-called because they kill bacteria that cause infections) include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving and frying. But with raw dough, no kill step has been used.

Currently, the FDA , along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local officials, are investigating an outbreak of infections that show the dangers of eating raw dough. The FDA reports that dozens of people across the United States have been sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121.

According to the release, the investigation found that raw dough eaten or handled by some of the patients was made with General Mills flour produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, facility. Tests by the FDA linked bacteria in a flour sample to bacteria from people who had become ill.

General Mills conducted a voluntary recall of 10 million lbs of flour sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s and Gold Medal Wondra, including unbleached, all-purpose and self-rising flours. Flour has a long shelf life, the FDA said, and many people store bags of flour for a long time.

They advise consumers with any of the recalled item should throw them away.

Some of the recalled flours had been sold to restaurants that allow children to play with dough made from the raw flour while waiting for their meals. The CDC is advising restaurants not to give customers raw dough.