New Reasons to Stay Away from Raw Cookie Dough

Dough a No-Go

How many times has someone cautioned you not to eat raw cookie dough? Though most people know the risks of contracting salmonella from raw eggs, that doesn’t stop many of us from eating the delicious dough anyway. But the FDA recently gave us a new reason to reconsider that spoonful, and this time it’s not about the eggs.

Raw cookie dough in a white mixing bowl with spoon


The Dangers of Raw Flour

The CDC reports that in 2016, 63 people contracted Shiga toxin-producing E. coli from flour present in raw dough. This wasn’t limited to cookie dough; many people got sick from handling or tasting raw bread dough or even making craft doughs! The outbreak was traced to several batches of flour produced by General Mills, and a voluntary recall was conducted. However, this is not a one-time problem. It is dangerous to eat any raw doughs containing flour.

Flour is commonly made from wheat, which grows in outdoor fields where animals have easy access to it. For some animals, this just might be the perfect place to relieve themselves. The wheat is harvested and undergoes a process of purification, grinding, and processing to create flour. Not included in this process? Killing the bacteria left behind in animal waste. A “kill step” involving extreme heat, such as baking or boiling, is necessary to rid the flour of dangerous bacteria. When flour is packaged and sold, the consumer usually puts it into a dough and bakes it. But if you eat the raw dough, you’re skipping the vital kill step!

Heat Treatment

Because there is no kill step in the production of flour, it is impossible to know whether or not your raw flour is contaminated, even if there is no active recall. For this reason, the FDA recommends you avoid eating or playing with all raw doughs or batters. Handle these food products safely, wash your hands after contact, and be sure to clean all surfaces and utensils the dough has come in contact with.

Now that you have another reason not to eat cookie dough, you’re probably craving it more than ever! Don’t worry: there are still ways to enjoy the treat without getting sick. Why don’t you start by trying out some egg-less and flour-less cookie dough recipes? And if you’re concerned about your favorite ice cream, you can rest assured knowing chocolate chip cookie dough is still safe!