Can Raw Cookie Dough Make You Sick?
Raw cookie dough can make you sick, especially dough that doesn’t use treated flour and pasteurized eggs. Studies have shown, untreated raw flour can contain germs like E. coli and unpasteurized raw eggs can contain germs like salmonella. It isn’t that either is common, and it isn’t that either is typically deadly to adults, it is simply that uncooked and untreated raw flour and eggs have health risks that can pose serious issues for children, the elderly, and those with other health issues like immune system disorders.
Given the above, there are a few basic things to understand about foods that contain raw flour or eggs like cookie dough:
- Both E. coli and salmonella pose different health risks, each can make a normal healthy adult sick and can be deadly to those with weaker immune systems.
- It is generally suggested that people don’t eat raw untreated flour or eggs. This is true for all uncooked foods including all types of cookie dough, batters like cake mix and brownies, etc.
- Store bought cookie dough that uses treated flour and pasteurized eggs is typically less risky than dough that doesn’t. Same is generally true for any preserved food that uses treated flour and eggs.
- Cookie dough in ice cream doesn’t use raw flour or raw egg, foods meant to simulate raw cookie dough like this are generally safe.
- Healthy adults who choose to eat raw flour or raw eggs are taking a somewhat reasonable risk. Young children, seniors, and those with health issues may want to avoid the risk, as the consequences can be much harsher for this group.
TIP: In other words, it isn’t just raw eggs that make eating raw batter a risky choice, raw flour can pose health risks too.
FDA Warns About Eating Cookie Dough, But Not For the Reason You May Think.
FACT: According to the FDA, “Common symptoms for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps, although most people recover within a week. But some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.”
FDA Warnings and Recalls Pertaining to Cookie Dough
An event from 2016 involving General Mills triggered a FDA warning about cookie dough:
- On May 31, 2016 General Mills issued a recall of 10 million pounds of flour over concerns the product was linked to an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened at least 38 people across 20 states.
- On June 28, 2016 the FDA issued a warning specific to cookie dough about the risk.
In the above article, the FDA offered these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:
- Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
- Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
- Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
- Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
- Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.
“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” says Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods. So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour. – FDA’s Raw Dough’s a Raw Deal and Could Make You Sick.
Is It Safe to Eat Raw Cookie Dough? – MDRN KTCHN.
Is it OK to eat raw cookie dough? For a normal healthy adult, eating raw cookie dough means accepting the low risk of (often bloody) diarrhea for the benefit of “delicious raw cookie dough”. The related risk benefit analysis is really just a personal preference. “Germs” (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa) that make us sick typically can’t survive being cooked. Thus, cooked foods are lower risk than uncooked foods in this regard. Eating raw meat, raw eggs, raw milk, raw flour, or anything that has come in contact with these things can pose health risks. Some people are going to choose to play it safe with store bought cookie dough, others will continue to lick the cake batter off the spoon when baking, others will simply skip the raw stuff… there is nothing in the world that isn’t risk free. See CNN’s Yes, it’s OK to eat raw cookie dough for a perspective on liberty and risk regarding raw cookie dough.