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Avoiding This Pregnancy Craving Could Save You From Food Poisoning

A recent salmonella outbreak across several states has been linked to raw cookie dough and cake batter. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published April 4, 2023
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Image: Neta Livne | Shutterstock

There are plenty of foods to indulge in while pregnant, but there’s also a short list of foods to avoid. During your pregnancy you might crave favorites like sushi or cookie batter, but beware these food items are prone to harbor some potentially nasty bacteria that could be harmful to you and baby.

While the danger of eating raw cookie dough or cake batter is typically attributed to eggs, a more innocuous-seeming ingredient—raw flour—has been linked to a recent outbreak of salmonella, according to the CDC. Here’s what you need to know.

What caused the outbreak?

The outbreak, which has spread through 11 states now, has sickened 12 and sent three people to the hospital. The CDC is not currently able to pinpoint the outbreak to a specific brand of flour but has linked the consumption of raw dough or batter made with raw flour to cases in several states.

Why should I be concerned?

While it might not look “raw” most flour hasn’t been treated to kill germs that can cause food poisoning. Any raw flour used to make dough or batter can be contaminated with germs like salmonella, but salmonella germs are killed when flour is cooked or baked. Adults can get sick after eating raw dough or batter and children often can contract harmful germs like salmonella after handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play.

According to the CDC, once contracted, symptoms from salmonella usually start within six hours to six days. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Some severe but often uncommon salmonella strains can sometimes cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints or the nervous system, and can cause life-threatening issues.

How do I protect myself?

The easiest way to protect yourself from the salmonella outbreak is to avoid eating raw cookie dough or cake batter. It’s also advised to clean any surfaces or utensils that touch raw flour and to separate raw flour from food that won’t be cooked.

If you insist on satisfying your cookie dough or cake batter craving, consider trying out an edible cookie dough recipe with heat-treated flour or pick up a package of Pillsbury’s “Safe to Eat Raw” products.

If you want to learn more about the outbreak and see if your state has been affected, visit CDC.gov.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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