FDA warns against eating raw cookie dough

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Raw cookie dough being mixed with chocolate chunks and chopped pecan nuts

Cookie dough lovers won’t like it, but the  Food and Drug Administration is warning the public against eating raw cookie dough after a reported outbreak of sickness linked to flour used in the dough.

Most people understand that uncooked eggs could lead to salmonella exposure, but the raw flour may contain a bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121.

“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods, said in the advisory. “So, if an animal defecates, bacteria from the waste may poison the grain that goes onto be harvested and milled into flour.”

Many flour brands have recalled their products, but the FDA still suggests that cookie dough fans buy the ice cream from the manufacturer rather than make it from scratch.

Common symptoms of the bacteria are bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps, but most people tend to recover within a week. Some cases could lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

The FDA believes that most people at risk of infection are those who are young, elderly or have a weak immune system.