Raw Flour: Is It Safe To Eat Raw Flour?

Is it safe to eat raw flour
Published on
02 August 2022
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

I’ve always been one for eating raw flour. I believe a lot can be learned about the quality of wheat by eating it in its raw form. That was until I realised how unhygienic and dangerous it can be! In this article, you’ll learn about the risks of eating raw flour, and hopefully, you’ll reach the same conclusion as I!

Can you eat raw flour? The short answer is no. The long answer is a little more complicated, though. Raw flour is not safe to eat. That’s because there’s a risk that it contains harmful bacteria like E. coli O121 and Salmonella Typhimurium, often found in natural whole-grain products such as wheat berries and oats.

What happens if you eat raw flour?

You shouldn’t eat raw flour for many reasons. It’s possible that wheat grain comes into contact with animal faeces, insects, insect eggs and fertilisers during the growing and harvesting processes. These contaminants can either make you sick directly or breed harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella which can make you seriously ill. Symptoms range from a bloated tummy, diarrhoea or even needing hospital treatment. 

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How to make raw flour safe to eat

The best way to make flour safe to eat is by cooking it. This will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present in the flour. The temperature should go beyond 80C (176F) to ensure the contaminants are destroyed.

Why would you want to eat raw flour?

There are many reasons why you might be tempted to eat raw flour. You might want to add it to thicken sauces or smoothies, or perhaps you just like the taste! You should also be careful when baking with flour that you don’t eat or touch your face without washing your hands first.

What steps should I take when using raw flour?

If you’re using flour to bake, or cook a recipe, follow these steps to stop you from consuming unwanted bacteria:

  • Wash any utensils used with raw flour thoroughly.
  • Use hot water and soap to wash your hands if they contact raw flour. If possible, use a hand sanitiser too.
  • Dry the utensils entirely after washing them. This will help prevent any bacteria from growing in moist areas of kitchen equipment or on towels used during cleaning steps. Make sure also to dry your hands thoroughly.
  • Cook raw dough or batter to an internal temperature of 80C (176 Fahrenheit) to kill any harmful bacteria in the flour.
  • Allow the cooked product to cool completely before eating it. Do not eat any food that is still hot, as this can also cause you to get sick.

Can I eat unbaked sourdough starter?

Well, it’s a bit risky but if certain requirements are met you can eat raw sourdough starter. The starter must be fully active and have dropped below 4.2pH which kills off unwanted bacteria. If it’s not quite ripe and above 4.2pH, there’s a good chance that lots of harmful bacteria will have populated in your starter, which can easily make you ill. This is where the risk comes in as you won’t be able to test the pH factor of your starter without specialised equipment (a simple pH metre won’t work). There are though to be some benefits of eating sourdough starter, check out Murrays’ comments on the can I eat sourdough starter page.

Conclusion – So, is it safe to eat raw flour?

While some people may think that raw flour is safe to eat, it’s not recommended by the FDA. It is essential to follow proper food safety guidelines to make sure you don’t get sick. With a few simple precautions, you can enjoy all the benefits of flour while staying safe and healthy. Thanks for reading!

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Comment

  • Most people in Africa eat raw flour and I don’t hear of anyone getting E.coli. The wheat is harvested and taken to a mill, no treatment or such kind goes in the process.

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