When It Comes to Raw Cookies, Just Doughn't Eat Them

A new study finds raw flour to be a culprit of foodborne illness.

By Ethan L. Johns
November 27, 2017

First they told us it was the eggs. Nevertheless, we persisted. Now they’re saying it’s the flour, too? Looks like you might want to think twice before you lick that spatula after all…

In a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gave home bakers a new reason to shake in their aprons. After dozens of people across 24 states became sick in 2016 from E. coli bacteria, health sleuths were able to trace the outbreak back to an unexpected ingredient: raw flour.

The flour, processed in Kansas City by General Mills, was found to contain E. coli that likely originated in the fields where the wheat was grown. These findings eventually led to a nationwide recall of several varieties of General Mills flour—totalling over 10 million pounds, according to the New York Times.

Many of the sick individuals became infected after tasting raw dough made with the flour. Some of the children became sick after playing with homemade playdough. The best way to prevent occurrences like these is to never taste raw dough; when dough is baked at a high temperature, bacteria is killed off.

How do the cookie dough ice cream-makers get away with this, then, you might be asking? Cookie dough found in ice cream has been pasteurized and heat-treated, which means that the product is safe to eat when raw. It also means that it rises differently than dough made from fresh flour.

So bake your dang cookies! And if you can’t suppress your cookie dough-eating urges, feel free to eat your cookie dough in Ben & Jerry’s form. That way you get to eat some ice cream, too.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns