Consumers need wake-up call about potential dangers of flour

Courtesy Food Safety News

A recent posting in Food Safety News tells a common tale: “She’s in the kitchen happily enough making some chocolate chip cookies. Happy because her family loves them but also happy because she loves nibbling on some of the raw cookie dough. It’s something she’s done every since she was old enough to start baking. When a friend advised her that the flour in the raw cookie dough may contain dangerous bacteria that can get her sick, she shrugs off the advice, saying it’s one of the pleasures in life she doesn’t intend to give up. Besides which, she tells her friend, she’s never had any problems with eating raw cookie dough, nor has anyone in her family or anyone she knows.” Sound familiar?
The posting goes on to relate how a Mom, baking a cake for her son’s birthday (from a mix), pours the batter into the cake pans and then hands the bowl and mixing spoon to her son and daughter, who happily lick them clean. The Mom would be surprised to learn that this ‘time honored’ tradition could actually make her children sick. Yes, even though she’s using a purchased cake mix.  Read the entire Food Safety News story here.
As we head into a new school year, a great food safety lesson that we can teach and practice ourselves is that flour is a ‘raw’ product and needs to be cooked before it can be safely consumed. Cooking or baking will kill potential pathogens that lurk in the flour so baked cakes and cookies, or cooked breads or flour-coated products are safe to eat.
As you think of baking cookies to pack in school lunches or for an after school snack, consider these tips for safe handling of flour.
FDA Quick Tips for Safe Handling of Flour
Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked before it is eaten.
•Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.
And stay food safe! Barb