If you're the type of person that likes to steal bites of raw cookie batter, you may want to change your habits. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the stuff is rife with all sorts of nasty germs, including some very serious strains that can cause hospitalization and even death.

According to Dr. Karen Neil, a medical epidemiologist and lead author of the study, people shouldnít eat raw cookie dough regardless of its origin, even if itís the ready-to-bake variety. In conducting their study, Neil and her team discovered that in 2009 at least 77 people across 30 states became ill after eating raw cookie dough, with 36 of those requiring hospital stays.

Although CDC investigations havenít been able to determine the cause of outbreaks, Neil says she and her colleagues suspect that flour might be to blame. According to her, flour isnít put through any special processing aimed at eliminating dangerous pathogens, such as salmonella and E coli, while other cookie ingredients, such as eggs and margarine are.

Neil says there's no need to fear the raw cookie dough found in popular types of ice cream, because it is meant to be consumed raw. On the other hand, she says consumers should not eat or allow their children to consume dough meant to make cookies unless it is baked according to product specifications.

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