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Prairie Fare: 2 Reasons to Avoid Eating Cookie Dough This Holiday Season

Cookie dough usually contains raw eggs and flour, which can have harmful bacteria.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension

“Well, this would make a good introduction to your column,” my husband said.

I wasn’t sure if he was kidding me.

What did he do, anyway?

We had picked up a take-and-bake pizza, a salad and a small container of cookie dough for dinner. We had finished dinner, and the leftover pizza and salad were in the refrigerator.

I was sitting in my easy chair reading a thesis for a graduate student’s defense in the morning. As I read the 150-page technical document, I really needed a cookie.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

When I heard the oven timer chime, I figured my husband was baking cookies. Then I heard the timer chime every 10 minutes for quite a while.

I was beginning to think he was baking the cookies one at a time.

I had read at least 50 pages by the time I heard a tray come out of the oven.

He brought me a cookie and milk, with a sheepish grin on his face.

“I turned off the upper oven where the pizza cooked.” he explained. “I was planning to bake the cookies in the lower oven, so that was at 350 degrees. Then I put the cookie pan in the upper oven.”

Now I understood why the cookies were taking a long time to bake.

I’ll cut him some slack because he brought me cookies and milk and inspired a column. Besides, I did the same thing one time with our double oven.

We’ve entered baking season. Rule No. 1: Cookies need to be baked in an oven at the correct temperature for the right amount of time.

Although you might be tempted to eat raw cookie dough, resist the temptation. We have a couple of reasons to avoid eating raw or underbaked cookie dough.

Cookie dough usually contains raw eggs, which may contain salmonella. If you were sickened with salmonellosis (the condition caused by consuming salmonella bacteria), you might have stomach cramps, diarrhea, chills, fever, vomiting and/or other symptoms. For young and elderly people, this can be very serious and lead to severe dehydration. It is potentially fatal.

Proper cooking or baking kills salmonella.

Most people have flour in their kitchen, and we probably do not think that it could be a risk to food safety. However, at least 11 flour recalls occurred in 2019.

In 2016 and 2019, outbreaks linked to flour contaminated with E. coli sickened 80 people and prompted food companies to issue widespread flour recalls.

Flour technically is a “raw food” and a harmful bacteria “kill step” is not part of the grain milling process.

Flour can become contaminated in the field and at various steps during processing. Grinding and sifting do not inactivate or remove bacteria, which can lead to serious illness and, potentially, death.

Heating flour to a safe temperature kills E. coli. However, flour is not “preheated” at food plants because heating will affect the protein and other flour components and its baking properties.

Enjoy some treats during the holidays, but keep these food safety steps in mind. They’re from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
  • Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
  • Do not use raw homemade cookie dough in ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling flour, eggs or raw dough. Clean counters, utensils and bowls.

Here’s a recipe that also makes a thoughtful gift. It’s an opportunity to practice the latest food safety rules for baking.

Blueberry (or Cranberry) Scones (Gift Mix in a Jar)

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. nonfat dry milk powder

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 c. shortening

1 c. dried blueberries (or dried cranberries)

Stir together the flour, sugar, dry milk, baking powder and salt. Use a fork to cut in the shortening until the mixture looks crumbly. Pour into a 1-quart glass jar and top with the blueberries. Add more dried fruit to fill in the gap between the flour and top of jar, if needed. You also may place the mix in a zipper-top plastic bag. Copy the following Scone Recipe or use the printable tags, and add to jar or plastic bag. Use immediately or store this scone mix up to six weeks at room temperature or freeze for up to six months.

Visit https://tinyurl.com/SconeRecipeCard for a printable recipe tag with the following recipe information:

Blueberry or Cranberry Scone Recipe

Place the jar contents in a large mixing bowl. Add the following ingredients and mix until moistened:

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1 beaten egg

1/4 c. water

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, quickly yet gently kneading for 12 to 15 strokes or until smooth. Pat to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into desired shape using a cookie cutter or knife. Place each scone 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooking rack. Serve warm.

Makes 15 servings. Each serving has about 180 calories, 5 grams (g) fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g and 150 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson)


NDSU Agriculture Communication - Dec. 5, 2019

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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