Eating Raw Cookie Dough Not Safe, CDC Warns

Now that we are well into the last month of 2018, 'tis the season to be shopping, decorating, and of course, baking. But to avoid killing the holiday spirit, you may want to be a little careful with some of that raw cookie dough.

In a reminder put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people were warned about the risks of tasting or eating dough or batter which has not been cooked yet.

"When you prepare homemade cookie dough, cake mixes, or even bread, you may be tempted to taste a bite before it is fully cooked," the CDC stated. "But steer clear of this temptation — eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick."

You often hear food safety warnings about uncooked beef and the likes — certainly, it is not hard to imagine the presence of bacteria and parasites in such food items. Keeping that in mind, one may think that the uncooked eggs are the culprit here as they might contain salmonella.

"When you’re making cookies, often the recipe calls for raw eggs," noted Lindsay Malone, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. "Whenever you consume raw eggs, you increase your risk of salmonella poisoning."

But eggs are not the only concern noted by food safety experts. Turns out, even flour could carry harmful strains of bacteria, particularly Escherichia coli or E.coli. In fact, an outbreak of E. coli linked to raw flour had affected more than 60 people in the United States back in 2016.

The CDC explained how flour, being a raw agricultural product, is made from grains procured from a field. Here, the grain could be contaminated by exposure or contact with animal waste. But once the flour is made, it does not receive any treatment to kill these potential contaminants.

"Raw flour is a raw product, and it doesn’t go through any heat treatment before you get it," Benjamin Chapman, an assistant professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, told SELF in 2017. "You should treat that flour like you’re handling raw meat."

Additionally, there is also a risk when young ones are offered raw dough to play with. Even if they do not intend to eat it, children are likely to ingest it by accidentally touching their mouth. As we know, children, older adults, and immunocompromised people are the most vulnerable to infection and complications from such types of bacteria.

To reduce the risk, make sure to wash your hands and kitchen countertops before and after handling flour. Due to how easily it can spread, it is advisable to store the raw flour separately from ready-to-eat foods.