Wheat flour a "new" carrier of E. coli (watch out for that raw cookie dough)

This Food Safety News article revealed two things I did not know: First, that ordinary wheat flour became a "new" potential carrier of pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella last year, after Nestlé raw cookie dough was blamed for infecting 72 people in 30 states with O157:H7. And second? Some people enjoy eat raw frozen pizza. "We actually had somebody in the company who admitted to doing this," a ConAgra exec says. (via Consumers Union)


  1. I, for one, have a severe problem with eating most of the cookie dough before it can ever see in the inside of an oven.

    It would sadden me immensely to get food poisoning from it… to this day I gag at the smell of a corned-beef reuben :(

  2. What kind of frozen pizzas are they eating raw – just cheese or Deluxe with uncooked pork sausage, pepperoni and all the fixin’s? Do they do this so they like them more when baked?

  3. Um, don’t toll house cookies contain egg? If so why is this being blamed on flour? Eggs are already a known carrier (and source!) for salmonella.

    Science is dead.

    1. Every other ingredient has to be tested and a sample kept for later testing, just in case there is an outbreak of food poisoning. Except the flour. Because the incidence of infection is so low in flour, testing and storing is simply not required. They tested everything else. It all tested clean. As the man once said, if you eliminate the impossible..

      I would actually claim this is good science. You know. Testing things, no preconceived notions, the willingness to accept test data no matter how weird, etc.

    2. They contain eggs that have been pasteurized, and is therefore not raw, eliminating that as a source for E. coli.

      Science is most certainly well alive and bringing facts to the table instead of beliefs.

  4. I very much doubt that deluxe pizzas have any uncooked pork products on them. The 10 mins that a frozen pizza spends in the oven is often barely enough time to melt the cheese let along cook raw meat.

    That said, I’ve always thought that the reason to be cautious about raw cookie dough was that it contained raw eggs.

  5. Yes, all flour unless specifically milled or treated for consumption without cooking (as in for cookie dough ice creams) is considered a source of bacteria. Mills in general have a high incidence of rodents and rodent feces, as well as bird crap on the pallets that the flour is loaded on (pallets are transported to the mills on flat bed trucks without a cover). Of course with Nestle their flour was undoubtedly shipped in a train car, there is still contamination that can occur during the whole process from the rodents in the fields to the water used in the fields (untreated water perhaps from sloughs sharing watersheds with cows), to how grain is delivered to the mill (falls through a grate underneath a truck and/or train), etc….

    AND wet flour is an excellent media for bacterial growth besides as any mill sanitation worker knows. I am not saying that flour is inherently dirty, rather don’t count on it to not have contamination.


    – Ethel

  6. “Some people enjoy eat raw frozen pizza.”

    Some people accidentally TWO verbs! It keeps the universe in balance.

  7. OK but seriously… since when was it a newsflash that eating dirty food can make you sick? Way to go Nestle, blaming your unhygienic processes on poor old raw flour.

    If people get food poisoning from XYZbrand food, stop eating that crap!

  8. The frozen deluxe pizzas I buy have uncooked sausage on them, so they take from 17 to 22 minutes to cook at 425 F. The strips of meat on the chicken alfredo pizzas appear to be cooked, though.

    Raw eggs, yes. And this article shows us there’s a new reason not to eat raw dough. The flour is where the E. coli O157:H7 was found during testing in 0.003 percent of the samples. That’s like, what, three in one hundred thousand? It was also discovered that flour can also transmit salmonella at 0.03 percent. I’d accept those odds, and I’ll keep eating raw cookie dough, but someone more susceptible to infection might not.

    Anyone willing to admit to why they eat raw frozen pizzas? I’m curious now.

  9. I love frozen pizza’s. Slightly defrosted so they aren’t hard as a rock. Just Totino’s and Jeno’s. Pepperoni is the best, followed by supreme. FYI, they taste about the same cooked as frozen. The dough is precooked, however.

    My kids get upset if I defrost the pancakes or waffles. Genetics?

  10. OMG!!1!

    How did any of us survive childhood?!?!

    I just put my children at risk last weekend !!!
    Someone call CPS!!!

  11. As someone who has recently discovered a wheat allergy, I really hope this spurs a gluten free revolution. I’m really getting sick of dinner salads.

    1. Be sure to check out Bob’s Red Mill flours then, they have a number of gluten free flours that work really, really well. I have a friend who is GF and I’ve been very surprised at how well they work in baking and cooking.

  12. Homemade cookie dough contains raw eggs and therefore should not be consumed raw because of the possibility of salmonella. However, it is possible to buy pasteurized eggs.

    Store bought cookie dough contains powdered eggs and therefore should be salmonella free. E. coli is not salmonella. E. coli seems to get into everything nowadays. I wish we’d just start irradiating our damn food already. Store bought cookie dough only recently started carrying a warning about not consuming it raw.

  13. I make my own cookies, and eat the dough all the time. Just a little bit, though. I like the cooked cookies, too. Although, it doesn’t have eggs in it, and I grind/mill my own wheat. Speaking of which, I should probably make some tonight! They’re pretty yummy.

  14. I work for a food packaging prepress company. One of our clients updated their *entire* baking line just to add a warning statement to not eat raw product. We touched at least 100 SKUs just to add this warning.

  15. You know what else is E. Coli-ridden? This new food scare. Because someone pulled it out of their butt.

  16. I was so happy to get in-shell pasteurized eggs so we can eat cookie dough. Never thought about the flour until now. Wonder if I microwaved the flour first if it would kill anything?

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