First were the raw eggs, now it is raw flour.
My task tonight is to bake 7 dozen thimble cookies for an exchange of Christmas cookies. I will attend this weekend. It will take a while, mixing the dough, forming little balls, rolling in grated coconut, making a hole in the middle, filling the baked cookies with a spoonful of homemade jam. But the end result is so valuable: a decadent and buttery cookie that melts in the mouth with a nice crunch and sweetness. Thimble cookies (ie, fingerprint cookies) are my basic Christmas element, requested by family and friends year after year.
But now, I have discovered a disturbing fact. Because the dough contains flour, I can no longer chew it happily while I'm shaping. (I used to do this because the dough does not have a raw egg, it only comes into contact with the egg when it is rolled into white shakes to make the coconut stick). Apparently, raw flour may contain E. coli bacteria and should not be ingested until heated.
A new study, published last month in New England Journal of Medicine tells the story of an investigation that took place during the summer of 201
"This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection."
It became a detective work exercise. All those who got sick said that someone in their family had used flour in the week before the infection, and testing raw bread dough was a common factor. At first it was thought that they were chocolate chips, but people had used different brands. Three sick children reported playing with play dough or eating raw tortillas in a restaurant. Eventually, the evidence pointed to the flour, ground in the same General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri.
This finding is at odds with the perception of most people about where E.coli resides. In general, it is believed that it lives in humid environments, such as ground beef, raw chicken, even green leafy vegetables; but now we know that it can survive in an arid environment.
New York Times quotes Dr. Marguerite Neill, professor of medicine at Brown University and expert in foodborne pathogens:
"It is a new vision of flour. It was incredible that this dried and powdered substance, stored on a shelf for months, could have a live microorganism that does not spoil the flour but could still make someone sick. " 19659006] All this is to say, I'll wait to try my delicious thimble cookies until they're fully cooked.