Baking cookies and crackers for Christmas and storing it for weeks has been a common practice for many years. Though these foods are dry and do not have any moisture, they can still contain harmful bacteria, revealed a new study.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Food Protection
researchers from the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have found out that harmful bacteria such as salmonella can be present in cookies and crackers for as long as six months.
‘Harmful bacteria like Salmonella can persist in dry environments for longer periods even though there is no moisture content. Therefore, don’t store Christmas goodies like cookies and cracker sandwiches for months.’
Dr. Larry Beuchat, who led the study said, "There have been an increased number of outbreaks of diseases associated with consumption of contaminated dry foods. We wouldn't expect salmonella to grow in foods that have a very dry environment."
They conducted experiments using five different serotypes of Salmonella that had been isolated from foods with low moisture content involved in previous food-borne outbreaks. They put the Salmonella into four types of fillings found in cookies or crackers such as cheese and peanut butter fillings for cracker sandwiches and chocolate and vanilla fillings for the cookie sandwiches and placed them into storage.
Researchers determined how long salmonella was able to survive in each filling. They found positive results of bacterial growth in all fillings. But more than other bacteria, Salmonella was found to survive longer in all the fillings. In some cases, the pathogen was able to survive for at least to six months in the sandwiches.
"As researchers learn about salmonella and other foodborne pathogens, they are becoming aware that they can survive for unusual lengths of time in dry foods. The next steps would be to test all ingredients that are used in these foods," Beuchat said.