It is not unusual for people to eat raw cookie dough as they make the cookies. The habit should be avoided, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Raw cookie dough can make people very sick because it contains dangerous bacteria.
The CDC warning goes beyond cookie dough. It includes bread and cake mixes. Among the reasons these raw foods can be dangerous is that some are made with eggs that can contain the germ salmonella, which has been blamed for some food poisonings. When salmonella is in food that has been cooked, the danger factor goes away.
In a note to the public titled “Say No to Raw Dough!” CDC researchers point out that “eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick. Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay, too.”
The agency also provides a list of ways that the dangers can be eliminated or at least managed:
Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay, bake or cook raw dough and batter before it is eaten, use the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time, do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix, do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream, keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods, follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked, wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces that they have touched, and wash bowls, utensils, countertops, and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.
One reason for the warning was an outbreak of E. coli infections across 24 states in 2016. The conditions that caused the disease still exist if people do not follow the CDC’s rules, the agency says.
Finally, people who are hit by food poisoning should look for several symptoms: stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. These can last up to a week, a good reason to keep the raw dough at arms’ length.