Food safety watchdogs in the United States are warning about the risks of contracting E-coli by eating ready-to-bake cookie dough before it's baked.

The CDC strongly recommended food companies to consider using heat-treated or pasteurized flour, in ready-to-cook or ready-to-bake foods and formulate ready-to-bake prepackaged cookie dough to be as safe as a ready-to-eat food item.

"Eating uncooked cookie dough appears to be a popular practice, especially among adolescent girls," the study authors note, "with several patients reporting that they bought the product with no intention of actually baking cookies," the CDC noted in the study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Previous E. coli-related food-borne illnesses have been associated with ground beef, leafy green vegetables, sprouts, cantaloupes, salami, and unpasteurized apple cider. However in 2009, an E.coli outbreak caused illness in 77 people 35 of whom were hospitalized. The outbreak led to a recall of 3.6 million packages of cookie dough, according to the CDC.

Authorities who investigated the outbreak concluded the flour was the prime suspect of contamination given that it does not ordinarily undergo a process to kill pathogens.