What Lurks Between Cookies and Crackers? It Might be Bacteria

Who doesn’t like to much on cookies or crackers from time to time? Numerous people are especially fond of crackers held together with peanut butter, or cookies with vanilla filling between them. Unfortunately, the spaces between such snacks can also contain some harmful stowaways. 

Tiny Troublemakers

Once they latch onto cookies and crackers, potentially dangerous pathogens such as bacteria could remain on such foods for several months or longer. This was the conclusion from researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA), who examined the presence of salmonella on common snack products. The authors studied five different serotypes of salmonella on both cookie and cracker fillings; specifically, peanut butter crackers and cookies with chocolate/vanilla fillings were used. 

All of the food products were placed in storage. The authors found that the salmonella placed on the items managed to persist for a relatively long period of time. In fact, on some products the salmonella bacteria to survive for half a year. According to the study, the salmonella samples lasted longer on the cookie sandwiches than on the cracker products. 

High and Dry, But Still Alive

What was especially surprising to the research team was bacteria’s ability to live for extended time periods in moisture-free environments. “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,” stated Larry Beuchat, the report’s senior author. 
So what is the next step? It could be that certain ingredients found in cookies and crackers allow bacteria to live despite a lack of moisture. Should this be the case, the authors contend that such ingredients may have to be removed. The Journal of Food Protection published the UGA team’s work in late 2015.

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