Beware the dangers of eating raw cookie dough

By Greg Hamilton • Published: February 7th, 2018
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Winter is upon us and many people, especially those living in parts of the country where Jack Frost moves in for a few months, reach for comfort food to put a warm smile back onto chapped lips. For some, that means baking cookies, which not only provides yummy snacks and delicious aroma, but also oven heat that helps warm the home.

A time-honored part of the process is letting the fortunate few lick cookie dough from spoons and bowls. But if you feel this temptation coming on, know that health experts warn that eating raw cookie dough can make you very sick.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in 2016 that involved 63 cases in 24 states and that led to 17 people being hospitalized. The team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies found those sickened had been baking with flour and chocolate chips.

They ruled out the chocolate chips as a cause of the illness and said that although raw flour is a low-moisture food, it can be a vehicle for foodborne pathogens. Eventually, more than 10 tons of flour were recalled.

  1. coli symptoms can begin within days of exposure to the bacteria and include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Most people get better within a few days but it can lead to kidney failure in extreme cases.

The authors’ advice may not be what home bakers, especially those with kids, want to hear: Wash the utensils and bowls without allowing any sampling. Make everyone wait for the finished product. It’ll taste a lot better, and you won’t be leaving your cozy home for a trip to a hospital.