FDA Warns: Observe Flour Safety This Holiday Season

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sharing tips on how to keep your holidays happy by staying food safe. Learn how you can protect yourself and your family when preparing foods that contain flour, like holiday cookies, cakes, and pies.

Holiday baking is a tradition in many households. Many of us find it hard to resist tasting a piece of raw dough when making a batch of holiday cookies, or letting our children scrape and lick the leftovers in the bowl and spoon. But we may not realize that sneaking a bite of cookie dough or batter could be a problem.

While most people are familiar with the dangers of eating raw dough because of its raw eggs and the associated risk with Salmonella, many people don’t know that eating uncooked flour can also cause foodborne illnesses (also known as food poisoning) due to contamination from harmful strains of E. coli

Flour is made from raw grains and processing of these grains does not kill harmful bacteria.

These pathogens are particularly harmful for people at a higher risk of developing foodborne illness, including pregnant individuals, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Make sure to cook flour before trying your holiday treats to stay food safe.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Flour

It’s important to always practice safe food handling and preparation measures when working with flour. Jenny Scott, a senior advisor in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition recommends important safety precautions so you and your family can enjoy a healthy holiday season:

Do’s

Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products to prevent cross-contamination.

Keep all raw foods, like flour and eggs, separate from ready-to-eat foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Remember, flour is a powder and spreads easily.

Throw away any recalled flour or cake mixes.

Follow package directions for baking mixes and other flour containing products for correct cooking temperatures and specified times.

Refrigerate cookie and pastry dough according to package directions. Use a refrigerator thermometer to be sure your refrigerator is at a safe 40°F.

Don’ts

Don’t eat, or let your children eat or taste any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.     

Don’t use raw flour or products that contain raw flour (example, cake mixes, baking mixes) to make ready-to-eat products such as milkshakes, ice creams or smoothies.

Don’t let children use raw dough for crafts/play clay. Raw flour used in making homemade play dough may not be safe for children to play with.

Review the FDA’s complete list of Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Flour to help keep you and your family safe every day.

For additional food safety tips from FDA, visit https://www.fda.gov/food/resources-you-food/consumers. 

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