During this holiday season, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging consumers to avoid snacking on uncooked dough or batter of any kind, and reminding parents to be wary of homemade play doughs – even if children don’t eat it.

The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment reminds us that eating raw dough or batter – whether it’s for bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas – could make you, and your kids sick. Why? Flour, regardless of the brand, can contain bacteria that cause disease.  In 2016, the FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigated an outbreak of infections that illustrated the dangers of eating raw dough.  Dozens of people across the country were sickened by a strain of bacteria called Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli.

Why is Flour So Dangerous?

People often understand the dangers of eating raw dough due to the presence of raw eggs and the associated risk with Salmonella. However, consumers should be aware that there are additional risks associated with the consumption of raw dough.  Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria.  So, if an animal passes feces in a field where the grain is growing, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.  Typical methods to sterilize foods during preparation include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving and frying. However, when it comes to raw dough or batter, decontamination has not occurred.

Safety Tips

The FDA recommends the following tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, or batter that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions for cooking products with flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils after contact with flour and raw dough products.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading.  Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
  • Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.

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