'Tis the season for Christmas cookies, but news stories reminding us NOT to eat raw cookie dough might make you feel a little bit like the Grinch. I know what you're thinking--"I eat raw cookie dough, and I'm fine!" What's the scoop? Do you really need to say "no" to the dough?
When you think of foodborne illness, you might picture undercooked meat or poultry. However, uncooked flour can also harbor dangerous E. coli bacteria, which can lead to GI issues, urinary tract infections, respiratory illnesses, and pneumonia. In 2016, raw flour was linked to an E.coli outbreak that made 63 people ill. Raw eggs can be contaminated by Salmonella, which can lead to severe consequences in children and older adults. The good news is that neither E. coli or Salmonella can take the heat; baking kills them, so your final product is safe to eat.
The CDC recommends these tips for baking safely.
Adults and children should not taste ANY (even just a bite) raw dough or batter.
Make sure you bake the items at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
Do not use the raw dough to make your own cookie dough ice cream or in other foods. (Cookie dough ice cream you buy in the store is safe because the dough has been treated to kill harmful bacteria).
Keep flour and eggs separate from other foods (such as raw fruits/vegetables). Keep in mind that flour spreads quickly because it's powdery.
Follow instructions to refrigerate foods containing raw dough or eggs if there is a delay before you bake them.
Wash your hands, bowls, utensils, countertops, and any other surfaces that raw flour or eggs have touched.