Given the risk associated with raw eggs, eating raw cookie dough is bad for you. Alternative recipes and vendor bought 'safe' edible dough is available for those of you who can't resist temptation.
If ever there was a question that divided a nation, separated families and caused foodie forums to overload; it's whether you should have a final lick of the spoon when whipping up a batch of cookies. We suspect that you have all been guilty of tasting raw cookie dough once in a while - but is it really all that bad for you?
To answer this question we have to break down the cookie and consider the risk each ingredient has in their raw form. A basic chocolate chip cookie is made up of the following:
Butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
The majority of these ingredients are fine in their raw form, though we'd probably advise you not to eat them alone (with the exception of milk). There are two ingredients on this list that could pose a definite health risk when eaten in their raw form. One is fairly well known; the other might surprise you. We'll start with the most well-known.
Eggs can be dangerous when eaten raw, due to the fact that they contain salmonella bacteria. When you contract the salmonella pathogen you might suffer a wide range of symptoms associated with mild gastroenteritis or even more serious diseases such as anemia and acute kidney failure. There is a long-standing myth suggesting that if you wash the eggs or even buy organic eggs then you reduce the risk of salmonella. However, the bacteria forms inside the egg, so washing the outer shell will do little to help.
Regardless of whether a chicken is organic, free range or caged, salmonella still forms in their intestinal tract. This means that salmonella will always be present one way or another. One way to reduce the risk of salmonella in raw eggs is to buy pasteurized eggs, though these have to be handled and treated correctly otherwise there is just as much risk of salmonella developing.
The second ingredient that has the potential to make raw cookie dough bad for you is, surprisingly, flour. In June 2016 the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report advising against the eating of your cookie dough, stating that people should be made aware of the potential harmful strains of E. coli often associated with flour. Earlier this year, manufacturer and consumer branding company, General Mills, recalled batches of flour suspected to be contaminated by E. coli. This is a rare occurrence but it can happen and have some pretty devastating effects.
According to the FDA's report, flour (and the grain from which it is derived) is rarely treated to kill bacteria. This poses a potential problem when the grain is infected by urine and fecal matter from animals. Normally, flour is used as an ingredient for cooking. Cooking will kill off the bacteria in the flour and render any recipe safe. However, if the cooking step is removed then there is a much higher chance of infection. The conclusion from the FDA, quite logically, is that eating raw cookie dough is bad for you and advise that you do not do it.
In all likelihood, the chances of becoming ill from a small nibble on cookie dough is not likely. However, there is a very real risk there and as such, we are duty bound to say that eating raw cookie dough is, in fact, bad for you.
Possible short-term side effects
- diarrhea vomiting
- stomach cramps
- illness from salmonella / e. coli