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Two Reasons to Avoid Eating Cookie Dough This Holiday Season

eating cookie dough, salmonella

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

We've entered the home stretch of the baking season. Unless of course you’re like me and enjoy doing it more last minute so you aren’t tempted to overindulge early in December.

I will also admit that I was once a lover of cookie dough so this message hits close to home for me

Although you might be tempted to eat raw cookie dough, resist the temptation. We have a couple of reasons to avoid eating raw or under baked cookie dough.

Cookies need to be baked in an oven at the correct temperature for the right amount of time. Reason No. 1 – raw eggs and Reason No. 2 – flour.

Cookie dough usually contains raw eggs, which may contain salmonella. If you were sickened with salmonellosis (the condition caused by consuming salmonella bacteria), you might have stomach cramps, diarrhea, chills, fever, vomiting and/or other symptoms. For young and elderly people, this can be very serious and lead to severe dehydration. It is potentially fatal.

Proper cooking or baking kills salmonella.

Most people have flour in their kitchen, and we probably do not think that it could be a risk to food safety. However, at least 11 flour recalls occurred in 2019.

In 2016 and 2019, outbreaks linked to flour contaminated with E. coli sickened 80 people and prompted food companies to issue widespread flour recalls.

Flour technically is a "raw food" and a harmful bacteria "kill step" is not part of the grain milling process.

Flour can become contaminated in the field and at various steps during processing. Grinding and sifting do not inactivate or remove bacteria, which can lead to serious illness and, potentially, death.

Heating flour to a safe temperature kills E. coli. However, flour is not "preheated" at food plants because heating will affect the protein and other flour components and its baking properties.

Enjoy some treats during the holidays, but keep these food safety steps in mind.

They're from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
  • Do not use raw homemade cookie dough in ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling flour, eggs or raw dough. Clean counters, utensils and bowls.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist

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