• Most of the patients interviewed reported eating raw dough or batter
  • Investigation into a specific flour brand linked to the outbreak is ongoing
  • "Most flour is raw," so they haven't been treated to kill germs, the CDC said

Health authorities are investigating a Salmonella outbreak that has so far been linked to flour. Illnesses have been reported from 11 states.

Authorities have so far logged 12 illnesses in the outbreak as of March 30, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The illnesses reportedly started on dates ranging from Dec. 6, 2022, to Feb. 13. The affected individuals are 12 to 81 years old. Three of them have had to be hospitalized, and no deaths have been recorded.

So far, the illnesses have been logged in 11 states. California, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Virginia have reported one case each, while Illinois has logged two.

"This outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses, and the true number of sick people is likely much higher than the number reported," the agency noted. "This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella."

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) revealed that the bacteria samples collected from the patients are genetically "closely related," suggesting that they got sick from a common source.

Upon interviewing seven of the patients about the foods that they ate before getting sick, six of them (86%) said they had consumed raw dough or batter. Flour, according to the CDC, is the "only" common ingredient, and the investigation is still ongoing to determine the exact brand of flour that may be associated with the illnesses.

"Flour doesn't look like a raw food, but most flour is raw. This means that it hasn't been treated to kill germs that cause food poisoning," the CDC noted, adding that raw flour may potentially be contaminated with germs — germs that may only killed by the process of cooking or baking.

"You can get sick after eating or tasting raw dough or batter," the agency explained. "Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay."

As such, it is advising people not to consume or play with uncooked flour, dough or batter such as cookie dough or cake batter. In fact, the agency has been urging people not to consume such products. Besides the raw flour, for instance, the raw eggs in them may also make people sick.

"(E)ven a small amount can make you or your child sick," the CDC said.

Apart from not eating or playing with food with these raw products as an ingredient, it would also be wise to clean the items or surfaces that have come in contact with them as well as to separate them from other food that won't have to be cooked.

As always, remember to wash one's hands properly before and after handling.

Cookie dough, Cookies, baking, flour,
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