Holiday baking Health authorities warn about harmful bacteria in flour

Germany · If you’re baking cookies or a cake, it’s best to avoid eating the raw dough especially now. Some raw flour is said to contain a variant of E.coli bacteria which could cause severe intestinal inflammation.

 Authorities are warning about harmful bacteria in raw flour.

Authorities are warning about harmful bacteria in raw flour.

Foto: dpa/Paul Zinken

Food inspectors detect E.coli bacteria in wheat flour (Weizenmehl)

In the past year, they detected so-called STEC bacteria in 22 of a total of 242 samples examined from milling companies (a good 9 percent), according to the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). These can cause severe intestinal inflammation.  Eating baked cookies or cakes is not a problem because any harmful bacteria get killed during the baking process.

Bacteria can trigger intestinal inflammation

E. coli bacteria are part of the healthy intestinal flora in humans and animals. STEC bacteria - Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria - on the other hand, are pathogenic variants of E. coli bacteria. They are characterized by a number of special properties, including the ability to form a specific toxin. If the bacteria enter the body, they can trigger an intestinal inflammation that can take a severe course. Elderly or immunocompromised people and small children are particularly at risk. For them, an infection can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is often accompanied by acute kidney failure, the BVL explained.

“Try to avoid eating cookie dough raw," said BVL President Friedel Cramer. "Only when fully heated in the oven are possible STEC bacteria in the flour killed; don't let your children nibble on it before then." In addition, he said, good kitchen hygiene should be maintained to prevent transmission of the pathogens to other foods.

In total, state monitoring authorities inspected nearly 369,000 establishments and nearly 597,000 products in 2020.

(Orig. text: dpa / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)

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