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Published on Dec 12, 2011 by Edgar Snyder

Holiday Cooking Hazard: Raw Cookie Dough Linked to Deadly E. Coli Outbreak

Cookie dough E. coli outbreak

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control have finally found the cause of a multi-state E.coli outbreak that caused 77 illnesses across 30 states in 2009. As it turns out, the ready-to-bake prepackaged cookie dough found in nearly all of our grocery stores was the culprit.

Initially, researchers were unable to identify the ingredient at the root of the outbreak, but upon further investigation, they narrowed it down to raw flour. Unlike eggs, molasses, and sugar, flour doesn't go through the same sterilizing process that kills potentially dangerous bacteria like E. coli.

Remember that raw cookie dough isn't the only culprit of foodborne illness during the holiday season. Holiday parties are great for exchanging good will and gifts among family and friends, but they can sometimes lead to the unwanted exchange of harmful bacteria. Here are a few things you can do to avoid having food poisoning take the cheer out of your holiday:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked foods.
  • Serve food on clean plates and replace serving plates often.
  • Keep hot foods hot at 140o F or above by using a slow cooker or warming trays, and never let hot foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Keep cold foods cold at 40o F or below by using small serving trays and replacing them often.
  • Never let juices from raw meat, poultry, and seafood come in contact with cooked food.
  • Avoid storing food in large containers that don't allow for rapid, even cooling of food.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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