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Flour a potential carrier for E. coli and Salmonella


The time-honored childhood traditions of licking cake batter off cooking utensils and sneaking bites of raw cookie dough may soon become extinct. Turns out the gooey, sugary mixtures may contain harmful pathogens.

Findings released by Nestlé earlier this week at the International Association of Food Protection showed flour can become tainted with E. coli bacteria and Salmonella and that regular testing may not make the ingredient safer for consumption. Food Safety News reports:

Nestle put five laboratories to work to find E. coli O157:H7 in flour. It took 30 samples from each of 1,074 lots for a total of 32,220 batches that were all put to the test.

One sample for an incidence rate of 0.003 percent returned positive for E. coli O157:H7. That was about one hundred times less than incidence rates for Salmonella found in previous studies.

But only those consuming raw foods containing flour are at high risk of becoming infected because pathogens in flour are usually rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling.

Nestlé's bake-at-home cookie dough was blamed for infecting 72 people in 30 states last June. The food and beverage giant was forced to shut down a Virginia factory in January after two cookie dough samples tested positive for E. coli. The incidents prompted the company to test flour samples for possible contamination and begin using heat-treated flour in products.

Previously: Frogs the culprit behind salmonella outbreak and I miss PB&J
Photo Melissa Wiese

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