Salmonella has struck again with a recent multistate outbreak spanning eleven states, resulting in at least a dozen ill including three requiring hospitalization. The CDC has identified raw flour as the culprit, but are still trying to pinpoint which brand(s). The sources of these victims’ illnesses have been identified as both raw dough and batter, with the only common denominator in these consumed products being raw flour.
Baked/fully cooked flour isn’t an issue, but the problem is that many people consume flour raw by eating cookie dough or batter before cooking it. Although it can be fun to “try a little on your finger” before it goes into the oven and has a chance to cook, this is an inherently dangerous practice. The flour in these uncooked products is raw, which means it hasn’t been treated for bacteria yet (one way to “treat” food is to heat it to a sufficient temperature, as is done with cakes and cookies). Cooking the product eliminates the bacteria, therefore drastically reducing the chance of becoming ill.
This is why it is extremely important that when making these types of foods that consumers follow the instructions for how high the temperature needs to be when cooking, and for how long a product needs to bake. Thee instructions aer both to provide a well-cooked product, but also for safety. These directions are on the packaging to ensure that your food isn’t undercooked, which is a strong contributor to illness.