If someone is making some cookies or some cake, don’t open your mouth, point to it, and say, “Batter up!” Otherwise, you could join the 12 people across 11 states who have recently gotten sick in the latest Salmonella outbreak. That because raw cake batter and cookie dough are the suspected culprits behind this outbreak that has already left three people hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A Salmonella infection would be a steep price to pay for munching on some cookie dough, no matter how yummy it may taste. Remember, yummy isn’t always good for your tummy.
Outbreak investigators began suspecting something raw was going on after interviewing seven of the folks who have gotten sick. Six of these people reported eating either raw dough or raw batter that had raw flour as the one common ingredient. That prompted the CDC to issue a reminder to not eat raw dough or batter, as “even a small amount can make you or your child sick.” That means that even a tiny lick can make you sick.
And in this case sick isn’t a positive thing as in the phrase, “That’s sick.” Instead, sick typically means four to seven days of fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Such symptoms tend to emerge six hours to six days after the Salmonella has gone down your hatch. Although most people fully recover without any real treatment—besides a bunch of alone time with the toilet—some can suffer even worse consequences that require medical treatment or hospitalization. Worse consequences—even life-threatening ones—are more likely in those who have weaker immune systems such as those who are younger than 5 years of age, who are 65 years and older, or have chronic medical conditions.
For this outbreak, those who got sick ranged in age from 12 to 81 years. The median age was 64. The vast majority (92%) have been female. The first reported illness started on December 6, 2022. Fortunately, the outbreak hasn’t had any reported deaths yet.
All of this is a reminder that raw batter is not a piece of cake, so to speak. To make it into a cake, you’ve got to bake or cook batter first to a high enough temperature to kill dangerous germs such as Salmonella. The same applies for raw cookie dough, too. Such dough can also have Salmonella as well as other pathogens that can make you toss your cookies. That’s why it’s important to follow recipes and cooking instructions before consuming cookie dough or cake batter. Although it’s often good to experiment in life, this shouldn’t apply to cookie dough or cake batter.
If you want to make some playdough, use heat-treated flour rather than regular raw flour. Remember that anything that goes into kids’ hands can or often will end up in their mouths. Don’t put raw flour, dough, and batter near anything that may touch your mouth or face in any way. So if you are covering your pillow or your significant other with raw cookie dough or raw flour, don’t. Make sure that you thoroughly clean any items such as bowls, utensils, and surfaces that may have touched raw flour. This includes your hands. After three years of the Covid-19 pandemic, you’ve probably figured out that washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is a good idea.
Finally, look for any signs that you may have more than your run-of-the-mill gastroenteritis such diarrhea accompanied by a fever higher than 102°F, diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, bloody diarrhea, vomiting that doesn’t allow you to keep liquids down, or any signs of dehydration. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to contact your medical doctor, before the poop hits the fan, so to speak.