I’m here to spoil your fun.
Don’t eat raw cookie dough.
You’ve heard the warning before: Raw cookie dough contains uncooked eggs that might contain bacteria that cause salmonella poisoning.
Now, there’s another reason to fear raw dough: The flour.
In case you missed the news several weeks ago, General Mills recalled 10 million pounds of flour sold under three names — Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature’s Kitchen. The flour is believed to be the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people across the country.
Some of you might be getting phone calls or messages from your grocery store reminding you that you purchased the flour and instructing you to return it for a refund. One of the advantages of store loyalty cards is that they track what we buy, allowing warnings to be targeted to the proper audience.
Until this recall, I had never heard of E. coli bacteria being linked to flour — and I’m guessing I’m not alone.
It makes sense when you think it through.
“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” explains Leslie Smoot, a senior adviser for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s office of food safety.
Animal waste in farm fields can contaminate the grain before it is harvested and milled into flour.
The General Mills contamination has revealed another reason to pass on a bite of raw cookie dough or a finger swipe of cake batter when baking.
For cookie dough ice cream, stick to the commercially prepared kind. Manufacturers should use flour that has been treated and pasteurized eggs to ensure the ice cream is safe to eat.
In addition to not eating raw dough, cooks need to be vigilant about hand-washing when handling it. In its recent consumer warning, the FDA noted that several people sickened in the outbreak had merely handled raw dough, not eaten it.
The FDA also suggests eliminating homemade craft dough made with raw flour.
Of the numerous recipes for the economical and fun-to-make dough, many skip cooking the product.
But small children like to put stuff in their mouths — like their fingers after playing with homemade dough (if not the dough itself) — so caution is warranted.
Here’s a recipe for Play Clay that is cooked to boiling, which would kill any E. coli bacteria.
Recipe from Argo Corn Starch
Makes 2 pounds
1 cup corn starch
1 pound (2 cups) baking soda
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon liquid food coloring or 1 to 2 teaspoons paste food coloring
Combine corn starch and baking soda in a medium saucepan. Add water, oil and food coloring; stir until smooth.
Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture reaches the consistency of slightly dry mashed potatoes. Mixture will come to a boil, then start to thicken, first in lumps and then in a thick mass; it should hold its shape. If play clay is overcooked, crafts may crack.
Turn out onto plate and cover with damp cloth; cool.
When cool enough to handle, turn play clay onto work surface dusted with corn starch; knead until smooth and pliable. If not using immediately, store completely cooled clay in tightly closed plastic bag or container.
Store unshaped play clay in an airtight container or heavy plastic bag in a cool place up to 2 weeks. Knead stored clay until smooth before using.
— Lisa Abraham writes about food for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @DispatchKitchen.
Breaking Bread: E. Coli bacteria a reason to skip raw flour
I’m here to spoil your fun.