The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued some bummer news for fans of raw cookie dough. Just don't go there, the FDA warned. And the culprit behind why you might want to skip the possibility of coming down with a nasty case of e-coli is a shocker.
It's Not About Eggs
Following a serious outbreak of e-coli in 2009, and an investigation, commercial cookie dough was mentioned repeatedly as a possible cause. However, to avoid just this type of situation, most cookie dough on the market is now made using pasteurized eggs. According to the update on the FDA site, the problem was tainted flour: "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. Subsequent tests by the FDA linked bacteria in a flour sample to bacteria from people who had become ill."
General Mills issued a voluntary recall of 10 million pounds of Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s, and Gold Medal Wondra, but the risk remains a real concern: “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 and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods. So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.
"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."
While the news has been roundly booed -- even the New York Times headlined its report "FDA Ruins Raw Cookie Dough for Everybody" -- anybody who has been painfully sick from eating contaminated food is more likely to give the government watchdog a big high five. And, by the way, the warning extends to all raw dough, including homemade "Play-doh".