BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 21: Traditional, home-made Christmas cookies lie on plates in a household on December 21, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Christmas cookies are an intrinsic part of Central European Christmas tradition and are usually baked at home according to recipes passed down through generations. (Photo : Sean Gallup/ Getty Images)
It's the holiday season again and, of course, who would not love to have some cookies and sweets on their tables?
This might be a good time to have those cookies and other goodies prepared for kids, but parents should be cautious as a new research published at the Journal of Food Protection suggests that the harmful salmonella bacteria can thrive on dried foods up to six months and might lead to food poisoning.
In order to arrive at this conclusion, the researchers led by Larry Beuchat of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences conducted an experiment wherein they put Salmonella in four types of fillings of cookies and crackers before storing for six months.
The researchers used cheese and peanut butter fillings on the crackers while chocolate and vanilla fillings were used for the cookie sandwiches. These types of sandwiches were representation of actual products that were being sold on stores.
The researchers sought to determine for how long the bacteria can survive in certain foods.
"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," Beuchat told Eureka Alert.
From the experiment, the researchers found that Salmonella survived longer in the cookies than the crackers with some lasting up to six months. This finding, according to the researchers, was quite surprising especially that the Salmonella bacteria survived that long in cookies.
"The ability of Salmonella to survive for at least 182 days in fillings of cookie and cracker sandwiches demonstrates a need to assure that filling ingredients do not contain the pathogen and that contamination does not occur during manufacture," the researchers concluded in their study.
In the report by Medical News Today, it was cited that the researchers are planning to test all the ingredients used in the said foods. They also suggested that, if ingredients on the food were found to be contaminated, measures should be taken to stop its use and avoid further spread of foodborne diseases.
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmonella is estimated to cause at least a million foodborne illnesses in the U.S., causing over 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. The harmful bacteria cause an infected person to suffer from Diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, lasting for four to seven days.
In some severe cases of Salmonella infection, putting it under control requires hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics.