No matter what your culinary abilities are, cooking is as much about putting flavors together as it is making sure your food is safe to eat. But despite knowing the dangers of eating raw or undercooked food, it’s not all that rare for people to taste test their recipe as they prepare their dish. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just warned that there’s one food in particular you shouldn’t be eating right now to avoid a potentially serious illness. Read on to see what you might want to pull from your pantry.
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The CDC issued a warning not to eat or taste raw cake mix.
On July 28, the CDC announced it was investigating a possible connection between an outbreak of E. coli and raw cake mix, warning people should not eat or taste the ingredient before it is cooked. The agency said it was currently collecting data with the help of local public health officials and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the source of the bacterial contamination.
The agency clarified that people should only consume both store-bought and homemade cake mixes after spending enough time in the oven. “Eating raw cake batter can make you sick,” the CDC said. “Raw cake batter can contain harmful bacteria. Bacteria are killed only when raw batter is baked or cooked.”
The E. coli outbreak has sickened 16 people across a dozen states.
According to the CDC’s investigation, 16 people had been sickened by E. coli across 12 states as of July 27, including Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. Interviews with eight of the patients found that six of them reported having eaten or tasted raw cake mix within a week before they became sick, but also reported different varieties and brands.
So far, all known patients have been female, ranging in age from 2 to 73 years old, with a median age of 13. The CDC reports that seven of those infected were hospitalized due to the severity of their conditions. And while no deaths have been reported, one developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
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E. coli causes familiar food poisoning symptoms such as stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.
While it often gets overlooked as a potentially dangerous ingredient, raw flour may contain E. coli bacteria that can cause serious food poisoning if consumed. According to the CDC, symptoms are different for each person but can include severe stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea that is often bloody, and rarely a low-grade fever around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, the illness will go away after five to seven days.
The agency says most people infected with E. coli begin feeling sick three to four days after ingesting anything contaminated, but symptoms can begin anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure. The CDC recommends that anyone who has diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, diarrhea accompanied by a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, bloody diarrhea, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down should seek professional medical help immediately.
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The CDC is also urging the public not to eat raw dough or cake mixes of any kind to avoid illness.
While the investigation into cake mix is underway, the CDC is taking the opportunity to also urge the public about the dangers of eating raw or undercooked dough of any kind. The agency’s Say No to Raw Dough food safety initiative points out that two outbreaks of E. coli in 2016 and 2019 got more than 80 people sick. They also warn that raw or undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella, another harmful bacteria that can cause serious food poisoning if eaten.
To avoid getting yourself sick, the CDC recommends not to “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,” as well as to not let children play with or eat homemade play-dough. The agency also says to avoid using raw flour in any recipes such as smoothies or milkshakes, wash your hands and all surfaces after handling raw flour or dough, and follow all package instructions and recipes to make sure you’re baking at the right temperature for the specified amount of time.
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