Several outbreaks of shigatoxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in the past decade linked to flour and flour-associated products have raised concerns that the consumption of raw flour represents a public health risk as a vehicle for foodborne pathogens. The extent to which consumers know and understand they should not consume raw flour is unclear. In the fall of 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected data on uncooked flour perceptions and self-reported consumption behaviors via the Food Safety and Nutrition Survey (FSANS), a national probability survey of U.S. adults (18+). Cross-tabulations and regressions were used to analyze the data (n=2,171). Thirty-five percent of consumers reported having tasted or eaten something with uncooked flour in it in the last 12 months. Responses differed significantly by sex, race, education, and age. On average, respondents indicated that uncooked flour is not likely to contain germs that can make people sick, with significant differences noted by demographic categories. Respondents rated raw homemade cookie dough as moderately likely to have germs that can make people sick, with significant demographic differences. In conclusion, U.S. consumers are largely unaware that raw flour is risky to consume, and a sizeable number are consuming products that contain raw flour.
Research Note Consumption of Raw Flour in the United States: Results from the 2019 FDA Food Safety and Nutrition Survey
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Linda Verrill, A. Lando, F. Wu, A Tatavarthy, Donald Obenhuber; Research Note Consumption of Raw Flour in the United States: Results from the 2019 FDA Food Safety and Nutrition Survey. J Food Prot 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.4315/JFP-21-256
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