Most people know that eating raw foods can be dangerous due to the risk of harmful bacteria, but a recent outbreak of E. coli related to cake mix can catch some home bakers off guard.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released details of an investigation into a link between the cake mix and an outbreak of E. coli. The CDC says it is working with public health and regulatory officials in several states as well as the United States Food and Drug Administration to collect data regarding the outbreak.
While flour may not look like a typical “raw” ingredient, uncooked flour or cake mix may contain E. coli, which can then cause food poisoning if eaten. Symptoms of an E. coli infection may include: diarrhea and fever over 102 degrees, diarrhea for more than 3 days that does not improve, bloody diarrhea, excessive vomiting where you cannot keep fluids, and signs of dehydration such as dizziness, dry mouth and less urination.
As of Tuesday, 16 people were infected with E. coli O121 in 12 different states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Oregon and Washington. The cases started on dates ranging from February 26 to June 21.
Those who fell ill ranged from 2 to 73 years old and 100 percent of those who fell ill were women. Of the 16, seven were hospitalized and one person developed kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.
The cake mix is under investigation as six people interviewed by local health officials said they tasted or ate raw dough made with cake mix. They said they bought different brands and varieties of cake mixes.
The CDC suspects that the actual number of people who have fallen ill is likely to be much higher, as many people recover without medical attention and are not tested for E. coli. In addition, some more recent illnesses have probably not yet been reported.
On Thursday, the CDC also recalled more than 295,000 pounds of raw beef from a meat packing plant in Omaha, Nebraska, over issues with E. coli.
The CDC advises people not to eat raw cake batter, whether it’s homemade or store-bought. “Eating raw cake batter can make you sick,” the CDC said. “Raw cake dough may contain harmful bacteria. Bacteria are only killed when the raw dough is baked or baked. “
And while many people have enjoyed the licks, bites, and tastes while cooking at home, the CDC’s Say No to Raw Dough initiative urges people to follow safe food handling guidelines and not do not eat raw cake mix or cookie dough, as this may cause illness.
This is an active investigation and the CDC urges anyone to call their local health care provider if they are showing symptoms of E. coli.