"Don't eat that! It has raw eggs and can give you salmonella!" This phrase seems to come with every batch of cookie dough. We still eat it, and plenty of other things with raw eggs, and take our chances with salmonella.

Salmonella sounds bad, but I've made it this far in life and still haven't gotten it – at least not that I know of. And I'm still not exactly sure what I should be afraid of. Together, let's find out what may be lurking in the next batch of raw cookie dough.

What is it?

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that you can get from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Eggs are not the only food that can give it to you. It can come from meat, vegetables, and was even detected in flour

Do people actually get Salmonella?

Yes. According to the CDC, salmonella causes "1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year." Not all of those are from eggs and many people who get it don't get tested for it, so these numbers may actually be higher. 

How can you prevent it?

To prevent giving someone salmonella or getting it yourself, be a smart shopper and chef. Buy eggs that are kept refrigerated at the store, and continue to refrigerate them at home. Don't use eggs that are cracked when you find them. If you crack an egg and it looks funny (cloudy, clumpy...) don't use it. Use your best judgment when cooking. 

The CDC recommends cooking dishes with eggs (including cookie dough) to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F. If cooked alone, both the eggs yolk and white should be firm (read: no runny yolks). 

Buy, store, and cook all other foods according to their respective food safety guidelines. 

What happens if you get it?

Anyone can get salmonella. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person. Someone can have it and be virtually asymptomatic, or they could require hospitalization. The most common symptoms often make it seem like you have food poisoning (stomach ache, cramps, going to the bathroom...). Young children and people with other health conditions are at the most risk. 

For the future

If you absolutely need some raw cookie dough in your life, try an egg-free version like this or this

To sum it up, use common sense in the kitchen and that will get you pretty far. Consult the CDC or Mayo Clinic for more information.