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Christmas parties, work potlucks and family get-togethers mean a lot of baking in the coming weeks.
If you’re tempted to lick the bowl after mixing cake batter or dig into that raw cookie dough, however, you need to resist.
Consuming unbaked food that is supposed to be cooked can make you sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kids also can get sick from handling raw dough used for crafts, the CDC says.
Most people know that eating raw eggs can contain salmonella, which can cause illness if the eggs aren’t cooked properly.
The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the United States every year. Food is the source for about 1 million of these illnesses.
Bacteria aren’t lurking only in eggs, though. Flour, which is usually a raw product, usually isn’t treated for germs like E. coli. The CDC reported an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made 63 people sick in 2016. Some E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections and other illnesses.
“Raw flour is a raw product, and it doesn’t go through any heat treatment before you get it,” Benjamin Chapman, an assistant professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, told SELF Magazine in 2017. “You should treat that flour like you’re handling raw meat.”
It doesn’t mean you can never eat raw cookie dough. Dough that is commercially produced to be edible is safe.
The CDC suggests the following safe practices to avoid getting ill:
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