FDA Concerned About Americans’ Uncooked Dough or Flour Consumption

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Several outbreaks of Escherichia coli infections have been linked to flour.

Photo: Klaus Nielsen / Pexels

Raw flour or dough should not be eaten according to health experts. However, many of the Americans are unaware of the risk of flour-borne diseases and they try raw dough for cakes and cookies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that flour doesn’t look like raw food, but it generally is. This means that has not been treated to kill microbes such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacterium that causes food poisoning whose symptoms can be mild or severe.

Several outbreaks of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infections in the past decade have been linked to flour and products associated with flour, raised concerns that the consumption of raw flour represents a risk to public health.

The only sure way to eliminate bacteria from foods made with flour is through cooking.

In the fall of 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collected data on perceptions of uncooked flour and consumption behaviors through the Food Safety and Nutrition Survey, and found the next:

About a third of consumers reported consuming uncooked flour in the past 12 months.

Raw flour is not considered risky by most American consumers. They noted that raw flour is unlikely to contain germs that can make people sick.

“These findings indicate that American consumers are largely unaware that raw flour is risky,” notes the study published in the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).

CDC urges consumers to resist the temptation to eat raw dough while preparing breads or cookies, also to prevent children from playing with raw dough, even the dough that is used to make crafts.

Symptoms of E. coli infection

Symptoms of E. coli infections vary, often including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.

People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after ingesting the germs. Most recover within a week. Some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. It can cause kidney failure, stroke, and even death.

People of any age can become infected with E. coli. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe disease and hemolytic uremic syndrome than others.

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