While baking is one of those things that many people simply do during the holidays, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are urging families to stay safe while participating in this activity.
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If you're tempted to scoop raw cookie dough into your mouth before baking, or you sometimes give the kids a chance to taste it, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. The CDC has warned that dry flour can contain some nasty bacteria which can be very harmful.
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Because it is a raw agricultural product, flour has not been treated to kill germs like E. coli, which can cause infections. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 56 cases of a particular type of E. coli-related infection were analyzed and the most common link between them was the consumption of raw batter or dough while baking.
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Researchers explained that dry flour is a much stronger breeding ground for bacteria than most people think. Samuel J. Crowe, the lead author of the study and an epidemiologist with the division of food-borne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the CDC, said that people need to be aware of the risks.
While speaking to the New York Times, Crowe explained that even eating a small amount of raw dough could make you sick. Dr. Marguerite A. Neill, an expert on food-borne illnesses, who also spoke to NY Times, said that most people don't expect that this dry, powdery substance could be dangerous to their health.
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Neill, who was also a part of the study, gave some advice to help people stay safe. She explained that, in addition to refraining from eating uncooked flour batter, people should wash their hands in hot, soapy water after handling flour. However, after your treat is baked, it's safe to eat because the high, sustained cooking heat will kill the pathogens.
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If eating raw dough is some kind of Christmas tradition in your family, you may not be too happy to hear this. At the end of the day, the important thing is to keep yourself and your family safe. Everyone can bond over a plate of delicious baked goods after it is safe to eat.