The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new warning against consuming raw cookie dough as Christmas cookie season gets underway.
While the potential risks of consuming raw eggs have are widely known, the FDA's new warning highlights the potential risks of consuming flour raw.
"Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” Dr. Leslie Smoot a senior adviser in the FDA's Office of Food Safety, said in a statement.
The warning comes after an FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigation that linked an E. coli outbreak to contaminated flour and resulted in the recall of 10 million pounds of flour, including unbleached, all-purpose and self-rising varieties, according to the FDA.
"The concern is that the specific flour came from a grain that was contaminated with the bacteria E. coli and that flour has the potential to cause human illness," Dr. Michael Levine, an associate professor at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, told ABC News.
Levine added that one of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to discard of any flour in your home that may be contaminated.
"The first thing is to look at any flour you have in the house and see if it's on the FDA's list of recalled flour," Levin said. "If it was, I'd throw that flour away. If you have flour that you subsequently transferred out of that bag into a container for example and you don't know, probably the safest thing is to throw it away."
The FDA advises on its website to not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter or other products that are intended to be baked or cooked and to follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at the temperature and time specified.
For those looking for an alternative means of consuming raw dough, some experts recommend using recipes that don't include any eggs and baking the flour in the oven prior to adding it to the mixture.