Could you get a raw deal from raw dough?
It's that time of year -- and no matter what your faith or tradition, there always seem to be cookies involved.
You might even whip up a batch of Grandma's famous jelly cookies yourself... just to keep the holiday spirit alive throughout the season.
But no matter what kind of treat adorns your holiday platter -- whether it's cookies or cakes or special seasonal breads -- one thing's for certain.
Don't eat the raw dough while you're making them!
Now, you probably already know not to eat any recipe that contains eggs unless it's been cooked, since raw eggs can harbor the dangerous bacteria Salmonella. That's probably why it was so hard to get a lick in edgewise as a kid when it came to your mother's mixing bowl or big wooden spoon!
But according to a new study, it's not just the raw eggs you have to worry about -- because the FLOUR you use in baking could be contaminated with toxic bacteria, too.
And it's a pathogen you want to steer clear of if you can: E. coli.
In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers investigated the causes of an outbreak of E. coli that sickened people in two dozen states last year.
It turned out that all of the cases could be traced back to raw dough made with General Mills flour (marketed under three different brand names).
And even though the flour in question has been recalled, the threat that raw flour poses remains.
You see, for all the processing that flour goes through, from bleaching to grinding, it's not routinely treated for bacteria in the way that, say, milk products are.
Bacteria from animal waste out in the fields can hitch a ride on the wheat and wind up right in your flour sack.
Typically, when flour is baked into cookies, cakes, and other goodies, the heat from the oven kills any harmful bacteria.
But if you take a lick of uncooked batter, those pathogens could be alive and kicking.... and sock you in the gut!
The effects of an E. coli infection -- from abdominal cramps to bloody diarrhea -- are absolutely miserable to live through. And, in the most severe cases, the infection could even lead to life-threatening kidney failure.
Since many strains of E. coli are resistant to antibiotics, you want to do everything you can to keep these nasty bugs out of your system.
So, as tempting as it may be, don't go near any raw dough this holiday season... or any other time for that matter. And keep the little ones you love away from it, too.
Of course, the cooked stuff isn't so great for you either, as processed flours and sugars will spike your blood sugar... up your risk of diabetes... and ratchet up inflammation in your body.
But only a Grinch would tell you to give up your cookies altogether. Just try to keep it to just one or two -- and if you're the one doing the baking, look for Paleo-friendly recipes that don't add any sugar.