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Study Identifies Suspect Ingredient in 2009 Cookie Dough E. Coli Breakout, and It's Not Eggs

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We're still not allowed to eat raw cookie dough, but not for the reasons you might suspect.

Read on to discover the guilty ingredient.

Researchers have published their findings in the online journal Clinical Infections Disease, that link the 2009 E. coli cookie dough breakout to tainted flour in Nestlé's Toll House ready-to-bake cookie dough.

Though it's still unknown exactly which ingredient was to blame, "flour is the prime suspect after a detailed traceback investigation, since the other ingredients--including eggs--underwent a `kill step' to eliminate germs."

Additionally peculiar is that previous E. coli outbreaks have been linked to "fresh" foods like ground meat and melons; this is apparently the first spread by a pre-packaged food.

There's no need to put flour on your do-not-eat list. According to Discover Magazine, "Physician William Schaffner tells ABC News that labeling it "risky" may be a bit of a stretch, saying it's similar to eating a rare or medium rare steak."

It's still advised to avoid eating raw cookie dough at home with raw eggs possibly containing Salmonella. If you are a young female, or parent of one, keep reading. Of the 77 affected in 2009, "(which affected 77 people and sent about half to the hospital), two-thirds were under the age of 19 and 71 percent were female."

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