WebMD BlogsWebMD Doctors

Eating Cookie Dough Despite Dangers? What a Doctor Wants You to Know

cookie dough
Neha Pathak, MD - Blogs
By Neha Pathak, MDBoard-certified internistDecember 12, 2018
From the WebMD Archives

I don’t bake often, but every once in a while I feel the need to dust off the cookie sheets, preheat the oven, and make some delicious homemade treats.

I’ll admit that, even knowing the risks, it can be tempting to taste the ooey-gooey dough before it gets into the oven. But before you stick your fingers in the bowl, keep this in mind: the raw eggs and uncooked flour in dough have the potential to make you very sick.

Raw eggs can harbor Salmonella. This infection can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, but can be a lot worse for older adults and young children.

And uncooked flour can be a hazard, too. It can be contaminated with germs like E. coli, which can cause diarrhea and stomach pain – certain strains can make you sick enough to be hospitalized. In 2016, the CDC tracked an E. coli outbreak back to uncooked flour that made 63 people sick.

It’s not just the dough you make yourself that can be dangerous – uncooked store-bought refrigerated cookie doughs could make you sick as well.

So is it ever safe to eat cookie dough?

Store-bought cookie dough ice cream has been treated to kill harmful bacteria, so that’s a safe bet. And there are some cookie dough products – made especially for eating as is – that can safely satisfy your cravings. They are made with heat-treated flour and cooked eggs to remove the harmful bacteria and germs.

Follow these CDC-backed tips to stay safe when cooking with raw baking ingredients:

  • Don’t taste raw dough or batter
  • Watch kids if they are playing with dough. Make sure they are old enough to know they need to wash their hands before putting their fingers in their mouths
  • Cook at the proper temperature (see the recipe for instructions)
  • Don’t put raw dough in ice cream (remember: the cookie dough ice cream you buy in the store has been treated to kill harmful bacteria!)
  • Clean hands and surfaces thoroughly after working with raw ingredients
  • Watch for recalled brands of pre-made cake mixes and flour products

Now, maybe you’re thinking “I’ve eaten raw dough plenty of times, and I’ve never gotten sick!” That may very well be true, but that still doesn’t take away the risk of getting sick in the future. Keep yourself healthy so you can enjoy those baked treats. And If you really can’t live without a cookie dough fix, find a cookie dough option made specially to eat.

WebMD Blog
© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Neha Pathak, MD

Neha Pathak, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and part of WebMD's team of medical editors responsible for ensuring the accuracy of health information on the site. Before joining WebMD, Pathak worked as a primary care physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs and was an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta.

More from the WebMD Doctors Blog

View all posts on WebMD Doctors

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More