It’s no secret that eating raw cookie dough is not the best thing you can do for your heath. Eating poultry carries the risk of salmonella infection—that notorious infection responsible for giving its victim nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, to name a few.
Despite this, many people admit to doing it anyway.
Now The Food and Drug Administration gives us one more reason to abstain from that guilty pleasure—even if it’s an egg-free batter.
The reason for it is this: animal poop.
“When birds and other animals do their business above wheat fields, they can spread bacteria from their infected feces onto the grain,” said a Washington Post report.
The wheat is then processed into flour, and while you might think that this process kills off pathogens, it’s not as intense as the process of pasteurizing milk, say.
“There’s no treatment to effectively make sure there’s no bacteria in the flour,” said food safety professor at Cornell University Martin Wiedmann.
In essence, when you eat raw cookie dough, you’re also eating bird poop. Maybe.
Cooking the flour through such methods as boiling, roasting, or baking reduces the risk of ingesting pathogens.
Already in the US, 42 cases have been reported in 21 states with 11 hospitalizations due to E. coli-tainted flour, which was discovered to have been manufactured by General Mills.
The company has already recalled ten million pounds of flour under their brands Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s, and Gold Medal Wondra, yet despite this move, Martin Wiedmann said it’s unlikely the FDA will ever cancel the warning about cookie dough.
And it is because flour is not meant to be eaten straight out of the packaging.
Flour is not becoming more unsafe, says Professor Wiedmann. Researchers are simply becoming more aware of the risks now thanks to new technology.
“New forms of genetic testing allows food safety investigators to ‘fingerprint’ and identify the DNA of the bacteria that’s found in patients,” said the Washington Post report.
The database then allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to group strains and identify possible outbreaks.
“Our food is getting safer, but also our ability to detect problems is getting better,” Professor Wiedmann said.
READ: 5 Ways to avoid getting sick from the supermarket
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