It can be incredibly tempting to lick the spoon after mixing a fresh batch of cookie dough in your kitchen, but many health experts will advise against ingesting raw cookie dough because it can pose serious health risks.
When most people think of the risks associated with eating raw cookie dough, they generally point the finger at the raw eggs in the mix. These can introduce the risk of salmonella poisoning, but believe it or not, raw eggs aren’t the primary risk associated with eating uncooked cookie dough.
In 2009, Nestlé recalled more than 3.6 million bags of pre-packaged cookie dough because the flour used to mix the dough was contaminated with a Shiga Toxin that produced E. Coli. A similar situation happened in 2016 when folks ate home-made uncooked cookie dough produced from General Mills-branded products.
The findings were particularly surprising to scientists since E. Coli typically enjoys moist places, and flour is particularly dry. Moreover, scientists couldn’t discern during which part of the manufacturing process that the flour became contaminated.
The CDC estimates that this strain of E. Coli is responsible for at least 265,000 illnesses, 3,600 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths each year in the United States. Comparatively, the FDA estimates that salmonella-related illnesses contracted from raw eggs are responsible for 79,000 illnesses and 30 deaths each year.
While the chance of someone becoming ill from eating raw cookie dough is exceedingly low, the only safe choice is not to eat it at all. We know… it’s enough to bring a tear to one’s eyes.