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Food safety tips

Health experts generally advise against eating any dough or batter raw, but that is usually because they contain eggs, which sometimes carry the bacteria salmonella.

A different germ -- E. coli -- triggered the voluntary recall Friday by Nestle USA of its TollHouse refrigerated cookie dough products after the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationreported related illnesses in dozens of people who ate the dough. The federal Centers forDisease Control is investigating the national outbreak.

Salmonella can contaminate meat, eggs, milk, seafood, vegetables and fruit. It is often spreadin food contaminated during processing or by unsafe handling by consumers. People also can getthe germ by touching an infected animal or its food.

E. coli can be spread through uncooked or undercooked meat and eggs, unpasteurized milk andjuice, and water contaminated with human or animal waste. Both bacteria cause stomach illness.The O157:H7 strain of E. coli can cause serious illness and even lead to kidney failure and death. Here are some food safety tips from the FDA: --NEVER EAT EGGS RAW. If you want to eatcookie dough without cooking it, and you are making it at home, consider using pasteurizedeggs.

--WASH WELL. Always thoroughly wash your hands, food and cooking surfaces and utensilsbefore and after preparing any food that could be contaminated, and after touching any animalsthat could carry salmonella, particularly reptiles.

--COOK SUFFICIENTLY. Many bacteria can be destroyed when food is cooked torecommended temperatures. However, Nestle and the FDA are recommending that no one bakeor eat the products being recalled in any form.

--CHILL PROMPTLY. Stow perishables as soon as you bring them home, and check that yourrefrigerator is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and your freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit orbelow.

--ALWAYS OBEY RECALLS. For a constantly updating list of food and drug recalls, check http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm .

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