Admit it: You lick the spoon after the cookie dough is blended, swipe a finger-full of cake batter as you pour it into the pan, and can’t resist a pre-cooked sample of brownies.
Please stop, urge the public health watchdogs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lest holiday baking turn into holiday bellyaches (or worse!). Before you write off the docs as fun-spoiling Grinches, consider the following risks:
1. Salmonella. Raw eggs can contain this nasty germ, which causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps in those who develop an infection from it. Salmonella makes an estimated 1 million people in the U.S. sick every year and puts 19,000 people in the hospital.
2. E. coli. Bacteria such as Escherichia coli can contaminate flour, which is also a raw product. Last year, an E. coli outbreak linked to flour sickened 63 people and led to a recall of certain brands of flour. Since flour has a long shelf life (and many of you break out the mixing bowl just once a year), you should check this site to make sure you don’t have any of the recalled products in your pantry.
The CDC recommends the following precautions when cooking with flour and other raw ingredients:
- 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 by washing your hands with running water and soap and washing bowls, utensils, countertops and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.
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