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While the scent of flowers is in the air, the thought of flour is dwelling on many peoples’ minds. At the beginning of April, the FDA and CDC are investigating a widespread outbreak of salmonella in our most crucial baking ingredient — flour.

Salmonella outbreaks aren’t new to our ears. The E. coli found in several brands of flour between the winter of 2018 and the spring of 2019 didn’t have fatal consequences, but it unnerved many, especially during the holiday time when people tend to bake and also taste test batter and dough more.

So it’s equally unsettling that, just as we’re all ramping up baking production for springtime festivities, there’s been an increase in reports of salmonella outbreaks. And unfortunately, it’s not isolated. The FDA and CDC have tracked the outbreaks of illness, and the reports are wide, spread out across 11 states. Rates of illness are still in the double digits, and hospitalizations are in the single digits, but it’s still a call for concern.

Since the investigation is still pending, there is no accurate understanding of where the salmonella is coming from and which brand needs to recall its products.

Until then, take the needed precautions. Though flour doesn’t look like it, flour straight from the bag is a raw ingredient and — just like raw eggs — should be treated like a raw product. If you know you can’t keep yourself from sneaking a pinch from the bowl or licking off the spatula (and honestly, who can’t resist?), try pre-baking your flour. Luckily salmonella bacteria are killed in the presence of heat, so it can be eradicated by simply warming your flour.

Via: Preppy Kitchen/YouTube

Preppy Kitchen’s video for making edible cookie dough, shows that baking off your flour isn’t too difficult of a step. To do this, preheat your oven to 350°F and spread your flour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, use a whisk to break up any hard lumps. Bake for 5 minutes (or until it reaches 160°F with a thermometer) and let it cool completely for about 30 to 35 minutes.

To get updates on the outbreak, you can monitor the information from the CDC here.