The wet blankets at the FDA have found a new way to make fun, pseudo-innocent activity dangerous. The agency says in a new blog post that people must stop eating raw cookie dough forever, even if there are no eggs in it. Should you have no self-control and do it anyway, this “could be a problem” unless you’re also down to consume “bacteria that cause disease.” (Still a free country, though, so you do you.)
The warning is tied to a recent outbreak of E. coli the agency believes was caused by contaminated flour. A strain of the pathogen has infected 38 people in 20 states since last December, more than a quarter of whom ended up hospitalized. “Flour is not the type of thing that we commonly associate with pathogens,” an FDA official tells the Times. “Most use of flour involves a ‘kill step’ — people bake with it.” Even so-called “raw” cookie dough in ice cream gets heat-treated to eliminate any potential bacteria. Problem is, raw flour does not, and as the outbreak has proven, that bag of Gold Medal could be chockablock with living pathogens (although it probably isn’t).
This means the organisms could also get you via other unbaked items like pizza dough, bread batter, and uncooked tortillas, or basically anything at all that involves touching the grain. The FDA went so far as to advise against letting kids do “flour crafts” (which encompass more activities than it sounds like they should), and instruct restaurants not to give children raw dough to “play with” while waiting for their meals.