FDA concerned about Americans’ consumption of raw flour or dough

Varios brotes de infecciones por Escherichia coli se han relacionado con la harina.

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 illnesses and taste raw cake and cookie dough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that flour doesn’t look like raw food, but it usually is. This means that has not been treated to kill germs 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, raising concerns that consumption of raw flour poses a risk to public health.

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

In the fall of 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collected data on perceptions of raw 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 last 12 months.

Most American consumers do not consider consuming raw flour to be risky. 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,” says the study published in the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).

CDC urges consumers to resist the urge to eat raw dough while preparing bread or cookies, also to prevent children from playing with raw dougheven the dough 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 they eat the germs. Most recover within a week. Some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome which can cause kidney failure, strokes 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 illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome than others.

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