Should there be E. coli warnings on cookie dough packages?

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Today I received the worst news a stay-at-home writer can get. There is a threat of Escherichia coli in our unbaked cookie dough. An investigation into a 2009 outbreak of E. coli turned up ready-to-bake cookie dough, eaten raw, as the culprit. And the CDC believes steps need to be taken to keep it from happening again.

The CDC is urging companies to add a warning message, either in commercials or on packaging, to unbaked cookie dough. This comes as part of the conclusion to a report about an E. coli outbreak in several different states in 2009. Officials tried to find the source of these outbreaks and came back, time and time again, to the sausage-like tubes of sugar and fat. It seemed that many people were consuming them without baking them. The natural reaction to that is, "People bake those?" But it seems enough people do that the outbreak only hit about seventy people, thirty-five of which had to be hospitalized.

Although the CDC has been searching, there was no one process or ingredient that was found to be contaminated, although they suspect that it was the flour. Although the ready-to-bake dough pasteurizes its eggs, sugar, and molasses, the flour that is used is raw. At the end of the report, officials set down two alternate recommendations. Either companies have to accept the fact that a lot of their consumers will be going at the raw dough with only a spoon and a generous amount of self-hatred, and make it ready-to-eat right out of the package, or companies need to warn consumers more strongly that eating straight dough can make them sick.


Read the full report at the Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Image: LD Cross