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‘How the cookie crumbles:’ Raw cookie dough is (still) dangerous

Food
Mom and child bake cookies

From the time we were children underfoot in the kitchen, many of us were handed batter bowls and mixer beaters to lick clean as a special treat when someone was baking.
But just one sweet taste of some uncooked foods can be dangerous, even deadly.
Many Americans still don’t heed the warning, so at the height of holiday cookie season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is again advising that eating raw cookie dough, bread dough and cake batters can come with some unsavory consequences.
Among them are Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections from raw flour and salmonella poisoning from raw eggs. Cooking typically kills these bacteria, but eating batters or doughs before they’ve hit the oven can lead to sickness, hospitalization and in some cases, death.
“It can be hard to resist the temptation,” says Jamie Kandora, clinical nutrition manager for Tidelands Health. “It smells good and it tastes good, but it’s not worth the risk of becoming sick and ruining your holidays.”

2016 outbreak

In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made 63 people sick, the CDC warns.
Since people tend to store dry goods for a long time, some folks may still have some of the suspect flour involved in the E. coli outbreak on their shelves even though it’s been recalled. Go here to check.
Even if your product hasn’t been recalled, illness can still occur, Kandora warns.
“The key takeaway here is not to eat batter or dough that hasn’t been cooked,” Kandora says. “Food poisoning is no way to ring in the New Year.”
She says symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild to severe and vary from person to person depending on age, overall health and other factors, including the type and amount of bacteria ingested.

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E. coli symptoms usually occur within a few days after eating the tainted food, and they include severe stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea that is often bloody. Most people recover within a week, but some develop kidney failure.
Salmonella symptoms develop quicker, usually 6 hours to two days after eating the contaminated food. Symptoms are similar but may include a fever, the CDC advises. The illness can last about a week and healthy people recover without antibiotics. The bacteria is more dangerous for older adults, infants and people with weakened immune systems.
Kandora says consumers can be lulled into a false sense of safety by having eaten raw dough in the past without getting sick.
“People will say, ‘My parents or grandparents always let me eat some when I was a kid and nothing ever happened,’” she says. “There’s a first time for everything. When it happens, you’ll wish you hadn’t. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.”
If you want to eat raw cookie dough, buy premade edible dough or use a mix or recipe that’s advertised as safe to eat when raw.

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