(CDC) – As we’re now in the holiday season, many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends, maybe making some gingerbread or cookie creations.
Now we all know it’s tempting to sneak a bit of that gooey, raw cookie dough, but the CDC says these seemingly harmless bites can have some not so harmless bacteria.
The Center for Disease Control says that raw cookie dough can contain harmful bacteria like E. Coli that are only killed when cooked. Raw eggs used in the dough could also contain salmonella.
In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made 63 people sick.
According to the CDC, the symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.
The symptoms of Salmonella infections typically appear 6 to 48 hours after eating a contaminated food, though this period is sometimes longer. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. In most cases, illness lasts 4 to 7 days and people recover without antibiotics. Illness from Salmonella bacteria can be serious and is more dangerous for older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems.
The CDC recommends the following when handling raw flour products this holiday season:
- Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
- Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
- Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
- Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
- Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
- Do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream.
- Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
- Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
- Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
- Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough:
- Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces that they have touched.
- Wash bowls, utensils, countertops, and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.