People keep eating cookie dough despite salmonella outbreak, CDC warning

People keep eating cookie dough despite salmonella outbreak, CDC warning

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Raw cookie dough seems to be an irresistible temptation for many people. Whether they pick a piece from the mixing bowl, lick the spoon used to slurp it, or even bite straight into a store-bought roll – they can’t help but ignore health authorities’ warnings not to eat it.

A salmonella outbreak linked to raw cookie dough has sickened at least 18 people in six states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two people were hospitalized.

Nine of them reported eating raw cookie dough from Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza, which has franchises across the country. Amid an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration, the pizza chain said it has stopped selling chocolate chip cookie dough and S’mores bars, and health authorities say customers who bought the products should throw them away.

The CDC regularly warns people to stop eating raw dough, but admits it’s a tough sell.

“When making cookies, brownies, cakes, or bread, you may be tempted to take a bite before it’s fully baked,” says the CDC. “But you can get sick after eating or tasting raw (unbaked) dough or dough.

Emily Nejad, owner of Bon Vivant Cakes, a cake and cookie decorating school in Chicago, understands the appeal.

“The appeal of eating raw cookie dough is all about the texture,” she said. “People love texture and variety, and cookie dough is the perfect mix of something that’s soft, creamy and somewhat chewy.”

However, she wonders if it has something to do with nostalgia.

“It takes me right back to fifth grade sleepovers, where you’re staying up, drinking soda, watching teen movies and going to town on cookie dough and marshmallows,” she said.

Nejad said she prefers crunchy cookies out of the oven, but tries a small amount of her raw cookie dough.

“If you’re a cook, if you’re preparing food for people, that’s just part of it,” she said.

For cookie dough lovers, Nejad said there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting foodborne illness, such as making cookie dough using heat-treated, egg-free flour. The Washington Post has a recipe for one.

Why raw cookie dough can be unsafe

A 2010 survey by the Harvard School of Public Health found that 20 percent of Americans said they “often” eat products that may contain raw eggs, such as raw cookie dough, hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing or mayonnaise, while 50 percent said dry. they did this from time to time.

The potential problem with raw cookie dough is its two main ingredients.

Raw flour can be contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) and salmonella, and unpasteurized eggs have also been a carrier of salmonella. Both bacteria are killed in the cooking process, but contaminated food that has not been cooked or is undercooked is known to make people sick, according to the CDC.

Lindsay Malone, a nutritionist, said these two bacteria are in the top five causes of foodborne illness in the United States.

Salmonella, specifically, can “infect the intestinal lining and cause infectious colitis, which, in turn, manifests clinically as diarrhea,” said Christine Lee, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Lee said the amount of food matters — those who consume a larger amount of contaminated food are at a greater risk of infection. But it’s best to avoid eating raw cookie dough, she said.

Experts said those with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk for serious foodborne illness, which the CDC estimates affects 1 in 6 people each year in the United States.

Symptoms of some foodborne illnesses

Symptoms from E. coli infection usually appear within a few days and may include severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting; symptoms of a salmonella infection are similar but may also include fever, according to the CDC.

With both illnesses, patients usually recover in less than a week — although those people with a temperature higher than 102 degrees with diarrhea, diarrhea that doesn’t improve after three days, bloody stools, or those showing signs of dehydration — should contact their health care providers, the CDC said.

Antibiotics are used to treat serious illnesses.

To avoid possible infection, the CDC recommends against eating raw cookie dough or cookie dough, but commercial cookie dough ice cream, however, is usually safe, according to the FDA.

Ben & Jerry’s, for example, uses heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs in its cookie dough ice cream to ensure it’s safe from bacterial contamination, the company said.

Even if people don’t taste the raw cookie dough, they should wash their hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water and clean all work surfaces, dishes, and utensils when working with raw eggs and flour, the CDC advises. .

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