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Can Eating Raw Cookie Dough Really Make You Sick?
The situation: You’re rolling homemade or store-bought cookie dough into balls for baking, and you take a nibble. We get it—that stuff is delicious and would beat actual cookies in a taste test any day.
What you’re worried about: Lurking in the back of your mind, there’s a vague fear of food poisoning from those raw eggs. But you’ve never actually gotten sick from a bite of dough before, so it’s gotta be OK…or that’s what you’ve been telling yourself.
The real risk: Unfortunately, eating raw or even undercooked dough is a little like playing Russian roulette—sure, you could get lucky, but there’s always the risk of getting seriously sick with a food-borne illness, as multiple ingredients within the dough could be contaminated by pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli, says Soohyoun Ahn, PhD, an assistant professor of food safety at the University of Florida.
Ingesting these pathogens can trigger symptoms ranging from mild gastroenteritis (vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or fever) to more serious diseases such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (characterized by anemia and acute kidney failure) or even death, says Ahn. In rare cases, people infected with Salmonella can develop reactive arthritis, a type of joint inflammation that usually affects the knees, ankles, or feet.
Per the FDA, the risk of many of the more debilitating symptoms associated with food-borne illnesses (except reactive arthritis, which occurs most frequently in people 20 to 40 years old) increase for older adults, young children and infants, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.
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So where do these germs come from? If you’re making homemade dough, the culprit is usually raw egg, as it may contain Salmonella bacteria, says Susan Whittier, PhD, director of the clinical microbiology service at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. But don’t fall for that old myth that you can just wash the outside of your eggs and be risk-free—washing the shell won’t make any impact if the Salmonella is lurking inside the eggs, which is a very real possibility, says Whittier. Plus, most commercial eggs contain an added protective oil coating on the shells, and washing them could remove the coating and drive bacteria on the outside of the egg to the inside via the pores in the eggshell, says Londa Nwadike, PhD, a food safety specialist at Kansas State University and the University of Missouri.
Store-bought dough, on the other hand, is usually pasteurized, so it’s not likely that the egg would make you sick, but other ingredients could potentially be harboring pathogens. Experts say that a prime suspect in a 2009 E. coli outbreak linked to prepackaged cookie dough was actually the flour. Nuts and chocolate have also been linked to Salmonella outbreaks.
Bottom line: Raw cookie dough is best skipped. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not just eating raw dough that’s risky—poor hand-washing habits while prepping could also get you into trouble, says Karen Neil, MD, MSPH, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC. So wash up before handling the finished cookies or anything else in your kitchen.
Still desperately craving cookie dough? You’re in luck: These delicious DIY cookie doughs are egg-free, totally safe, and pretty darn healthy, too.
source : Prevention