The holidays simply wouldn’t be complete without homemade dishes and desserts. Treats also are commonly offered as tokens of appreciation when popping in on friends and relatives.
Good chefs understand that tasting foods while they are being prepared helps to ensure the finished product will be just right. Children often want to help in the kitchen, especially if given the opportunity to sample some sweets.
As much as sampling can help ensure things come out right, it’s important to know when licking that spoon or mixing beaters is a good idea, and when it may lead to gastrointestinal upset.
It’s oh so tempting to break off a chunk of uncooked cookie dough or pie crust and sample your handiwork. If the recipe doesn’t contain eggs, it’s safe to dig in, right? Actually, many people are unaware that sampling uncooked doughs and batters is risky due to the flour. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that flour actually is a raw food. It hasn’t been treated to kill germs such as E. coli and other bacteria. Even processes like grinding and bleaching flours will not eradicate bacteria. The CDC says in 2016 and 2019 two outbreaks of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made more than 80 people sick. Adults and children should skip those nibbles when raw dough is involved. Wait for the baked cookies or look into safe ‘raw cookie dough’ recipes.
Who can forget the image of Rocky Balboa downing a glass of raw eggs in the first ‘Rocky’ movie? In fact, it once was a trend for bodybuilders to drink raw egg mixtures as early protein shakes before whey and plant protein powders were made available. Anyone who consumes raw eggs runs the risk of salmonella poisoning. The American Egg Board says the chances of getting an infected egg is about 0.005 percent. Roughly one out of every 20,000 eggs produced will contain salmonella bacteria. Even if infected, if the egg is properly handled and refrigerated, bacteria should not multiply enough to cause illness in a healthy person. Still, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system should avoid raw eggs. The USDA says to use pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for raw eggs, like those for mayonnaise, Caesar dressing or hollandaise sauces. In-shell pasteurized eggs (which are placed in a hot water bath to kill bacteria) may be consumed safely without cooking.
Meats and poultry
Do not take a slice of that roast or sample a wing from the baked chicken unless you can confirm with a cooking thermometer that the food is done. It is unsafe to judge food’s doneness by texture, color, color of the juices, and other sensory measures. Eating a piece before it is thoroughly cooked increases the risk of illness.
It’s very tempting to sample recipes while preparing meals for guests or even regular family meals. But anyone who samples could be increasing their risk for food poisoning.