Don’t Let Raw Cookie Dough Steal Your Holiday Joy

Christmas cookiesFor many, the holidays are synonymous with spending hours in the kitchen making homemade cookies and cakes for family and friends. It may also be a time of nostalgia as you remember gobbling up a piece of raw dough as a child, and no one thought a thing of allowing you to scrape the bowl and eat raw cake batter. But if you are considering sharing this tradition with your children, New York-based, registered dietitian nutritionist, Samina Kalloo of suggest you hold off on licking the bowl or taking bites of that raw cookie dough. “According to a recent statement issued by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) raw dough could transmit harmful or evenly deadly bacteria,” says Kalloo.

Ingredients That Make Raw Cookie Dough Dangerous

People often understand the dangers of eating raw dough due to the presence of raw eggs and the associated risk with salmonella. However, you might not be aware that there are additional risks associated with the eating raw dough, such as particularly harmful strains of E. coli in flour.

Here is why. If an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, E. coli bacteria from the animal’s waste could contaminate the grain, which is milled into flour. Dough made from this flour could transmit these bacteria if eaten. However, cooking the dough—including baking, roasting, microwaving or frying, kills the bacteria.

Common symptoms of E. coli are diarrhea, which is often bloody, and abdominal cramps, although most people recover within a week. But some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Handle Raw Dough with Care

Kalloo, who always gets her kids involved with preparing and decorating cookies for the holidays says, “With this new FDA warning on raw dough it is important for parents to know how to keep their family safe when making homemade cookies.” So, don’t let raw cookie dough be the Grinch that takes the joy out of your family’s holiday. Follow these tips for safe handling of raw cookie dough.

  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils. “Washing hands after coming in contact with raw dough or raw flour is very important,” says Kalloo. “To ensure my kids wash their hands immediately after handling either of these raw components, I have them wash their hands right at the kitchen sink while standing on their stools. I then wash any utensils or work surfaces that have come in contact with the raw dough and flour.”