Raw diets are all the rage right now, and it has everyone asking one age old question: can I safely eat raw cookie dough (and other brownie or cake batters)? Regardless of what the answer might have been a few weeks ago, you definitely should avoid cookie dough now. The FDA recently warned that people need to stop eating raw dough of any kind due to a recent E. Coli outbreak. However, the culprit behind the outbreak might surprise you.
People have always feared raw batter because they thought uncooked eggs might give them salmonella, but that’s highly unlikely. According to the CDC, in 1990, only one in every 20,000 eggs was contaminated with salmonella. Since regulations have vastly improved over the last 25 years, that number is likely much lower now. Pasteurized eggs are even safer.
Even if an infected egg makes it to your kitchen, storing it below 45 degrees would keep the egg bacteria free. If, after all of that, you still manage to eat a raw egg with salmonella, you very well might not get sick. Most healthy adults can handle small amounts of salmonella bacteria without falling ill.
So raw eggs don’t really pose that great of a threat. But don’t go cookie dough crazy yet. It turns out that another, far more dangerous enemy lurks within raw dough and batters: flour.
Time for some gross reality: Animals poop on the ground. Bacteria from the poop contaminates grains that grow on the ground. Contaminated grains get made into flour. And that’s the story of how E. Coli met raw flour.
This isn’t the first time that raw flour has caused an E. Coli outbreak. It was also responsible for a 2009 outbreak that killed an otherwise healthy woman and forced Nestle Toll House to recall their cookie dough.
Since then, Nestle Toll House began using heat treated flour in their cookie dough. So that might actually be safe to eat (although I’ll leave it up to you if you want to risk it).
Still, most restaurants and home cooks are working with uncooked flour, making any raw dough or batter incredibly dangerous. But don’t give up on cookie dough just yet. Spoon has got you covered. Check out the related articles below for some cookie dough recipes you can enjoy without worrying about Salmonella or E. Coli.