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Friday, September 20, 2019

Eating Raw Cake Batter

     I baked a cake this morning and I did it. “It” is the same thing I’ve been doing since I was a little boy and my mother baked a cake or cookies, I licked the spoon! 
     This is a very dangerous thing to do I’m told...much more dangerous than drinking water out of a garden hose like we did as kids, but probably more on a par with riding a bike with out pads and a helmet. 
     Most everybody knows that raw eggs in cookie dough and cake batter can carry salmonella, but mot so many know that the FDA has issued a grim reminder that raw flour could make you sick, too, so cake batter and cookie dough could be a double whammy! 
     Not long ago two General Mills boxed cake mixes were recalled due to possible E. coli contamination which had the potential to give people a bad case of diarrhea and cramps for a week and, at worst, can cause kidney failure. General Mills ended up recalling more than 10 million pounds of flour.
     Widespread flour contamination is a relatively new phenomenon. Raw flour can carry contaminants just like any other field crop because it is derived from uncooked grains growing in an open field making susceptible to bacterial contamination. 
     Four is not treated to kill bacteria like E. coli because it’s expected that consumers will kill any possible bacteria by boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving or frying the flour during the cooking process. 
      We eat raw fruits and vegetables all the time, so what’s so bad about raw flour? Well, according to the experts, it’s because E. coli outbreaks in flour are a relatively new phenomenon. People in the food business have a lot of experience preventing the bacteria in raw fruits and vegetables, but not no much in flour. They simply don’t know how flour is getting contaminated. One theory is that it’s animals. They drop feces in the fields or it could come from processing facilities, it could be the workers, nobody knows. 

     They may be able to lower the risk of E. Coli in flour by heat-treating it. Nestle started heat-treating all the flour in its cookie dough when the FDA linked raw cookie dough to an E. coli outbreak in 2009, but most other manufacturers haven’t followed suit. 
     Processing steps like grinding grain and bleaching flour do not kill germs like E. coli. Bacteria are killed only when flour is cooked. This is why you should never taste or eat raw dough or batter. In addition, raw eggs can contain Salmonella that can make you sick if the eggs are eaten raw or lightly cooked, so do not taste or eat raw dough! 
     The warnings say whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts. People eat homemade play dough or holiday ornaments?! 
     Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix and do not use raw homemade cookie dough in ice cream. The store bought stuff contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria. 
     Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces they have touched. Wash bowls, utensils, counter tops and other surfaces with warm, soapy water. 
     The symptoms of E. coli infections vary among people but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after swallowing the contaminated material and most people recover within a week. However, some people develop a serious type of illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death. 
     The symptoms of Salmonella typically appear 6 hours to 4 days after eating a contaminated food, though this period is sometimes longer. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. In most cases, illness lasts 4 to 7 days and people recover without antibiotics. Illness from Salmonella bacteria can be serious and is more dangerous for older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems.

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