cake batter

Uncooked Flour May Contain E. Coli, Study Reveals

If you’re baking a cake, don’t lick the spoon
cake batter

Researchers want you to wait until you cook the batter to eat it.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine recently unveiled frightening potential for E. coli contamination in most baking flour prior to cooking. Once you cook the flour, the bacteria dies and the risk deteriorates. Raw flour, however, is an entirely different story.

“Our data show that although it is a low-moisture food, raw flour can be a vehicle for foodborne pathogens,” the study said. After becoming infected with foodborne pathogens, illness can occur anytime from the moment of consumption to 10 days later. Because of this decidedly unpleasant fact about food poisoning, researchers have only now begun to see the full extent of the link between flour and sickness.

The researchers were curious about an outbreak of E. coli from 2016. The outbreak caused 63 reported cases of illness in 24 states. Seventeen people were hospitalized. General Mills flour was identified as the potential cause of the outbreak, triggering an immediate recall of their flour products. They recalled 10 million pounds of flour, later expanding the recall to include cake and pancake mixes.


The new report revealed that the problem of contamination may be more common than was previously thought. So before you lick your cake batter from the spoon, reconsider — raw flour is one of the foods more likely to give you food poisoning.