It turns out raw cookie dough can make you sick – but not just from the eggs.
Last month, General Mills recalled 10 million pounds of flour after reports of a multiple-state E. coli outbreak – 38 people were infected, and 10 people had to be hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The CDC, along with the Food and Drug Administration, investigated the outbreak and found one thing in common: Everyone who got sick handled or ate uncooked dough that was produced in a Kansas City, Missouri, factory, a news release says.
Some of the recalled flour was sold to restaurants that allowed kids to play with dough made from the raw flour while waiting for their meals, the FDA says.
Now, the agencies are advising that consumers not eat raw dough that contains flour, or let their kids do art projects or play with materials that contain flour that's intended to be cooked or baked, but hasn't been, the agencies say.
Flour, not eggs?
Yes, there's still a risk of getting Salmonella when you eat raw dough that contains eggs. But the FDA says that's not the only risk.
“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” says Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety.
If an animal goes to the bathroom in a field, bacteria from animal waste can contaminate the grain, the FDA says. That grain is then harvested and milled into flour.
And that flour is in the raw cookie dough you couldn't help but try a bite of.
But when the flour is boiled, baked, roasted, microwaved or fried, the bacteria gets killed making it safe to eat. There's no so-called "kill step" when someone gobbles up raw dough.
What about cookie dough ice cream?
Don't worry, the cookie dough ice cream you get from the local ice cream shop is likely safe to eat. The FDA says to prevent any illness, manufacturers use treated flour and pasteurized eggs.
But, the agency says not to make homemade cookie dough ice cream at home – stick to the commercially made products.
The FDA and CDC are encouraging anyone who has one of the recalled products to throw it away. Click here for more information.