E. coli outbreaks traced to raw flour | Science News


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Step away from the cookie dough. E. coli outbreaks traced to raw flour

One recent outbreak of foodborne illness was tied to bacteria in flour from a single facility

5:00pm, November 22, 2017
bowl of cookie batter

DOUGH DEBACLE  In 2015 and 2016, E. coli-tainted flour sickened dozens of people in the United States, most of whom had eaten raw dough or batter while baking. 

Eggs, long condemned for making raw cookie dough a forbidden pleasure, can stop taking all the blame. There’s another reason to resist the sweet uncooked temptation: flour.

The seemingly innocuous pantry staple can harbor strains of E. coli bacteria that make people sick. And, while not a particularly common source of foodborne illness, flour has been implicated in two E. coli outbreaks in the United States and Canada in the last two years.

Pinning down tainted flour as the source of the U.S. outbreak, which sickened 63 people between December 2015 and September 2016, was trickier than the average food poisoning investigation, researchers recount November 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Usually, state health departments rely on standard questionnaires to find a common culprit for a cluster of

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