Americans have a thing for cookie dough, even though we aren't supposed to.
I know this. You know this. We all know this. But many of us still can't stop snagging a little taste of the dough (or maybe even cake or brownie batter) before it goes in the oven.
In the past month, however, the Centers for Disease Control have announced three significant flour recalls that have caused this food writer to reconsider her laissez-faire stance.
King Arthur, Pillsbury and ALDI's Baker's Corner flour — some specifically bread flour, some all-purpose — have recalled bags of flour that were contaminated with E. coli. All of those flour brands were processed in a New York-based facility, and although none of the reported illnesses have been in Texas, the investigations into the outbreaks are still ongoing.
When I was a kid, I knew that raw cookie dough (or cake batter) could cause sickness because of possible salmonella in the raw eggs, but it wasn't until recent years that raw flour started to become of equal concern.
Commercially made cookie dough that is intended to be consumed raw, such as the kind sold at cookie dough cafes or mixed into cookie dough ice cream, use flour that has been heat-treated to kill pathogens, so it's safe to continue to eat that kind of cookie dough, but home cooks can't buy pre-treated flour (yet) and no one has done enough tests on trying to treat the flour at home.
All this to say: Don't eat raw cookie dough (or cake batter), especially right now. We don't know if these flour recalls are going to continue through the summer months, and E. coli isn't an illness you want to be messing with any time of year.
Also off limits: Ready-to-bake cookie dough. Those packages include explicit warnings about not eating the dough without baking it first.
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