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How Unsafe Is It Really to Eat Raw Cookie Dough?

We know it's tempting to eat that raw cookie batter, but there are some serious health risks involved, according to the CDC.
How Unsafe Is It Really to Eat Raw Cookie Dough?

Cookie baking season is in full swing right now, which calls for snowflake-shaped cookie cutters, colorful icing, tons of sprinkles, cups of chocolate chips, and … a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has issued a report called Say No to Raw Dough! that outlines the dangers of eating raw cookie dough.

Sorry to put a damper on any holiday baking traditions of scraping out your mixing bowl with a spoon and enjoying that doughy goodness, but wouldn’t you rather stay healthy this season instead? Here are the scary reasons why eating raw cookie dough is so bad for you.

Why is eating raw cookie dough unsafe?

As you likely know, the CDC has already warned against the dangers of consuming raw eggs. They’re known for carrying Salmonella, which is one of the most common bacteria to cause foodborne illness. Salmonella can cause a slew of side effects, the most common of which are abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of consumption of a food with Salmonella. Symptoms typically last anywhere from four to seven days, and we know you don’t want to be down for the count this holiday season when you’ve got festive parties to go to.

According to the CDC, Salmonella is responsible for causing approximately 1.2 million people to get sick each year—in about 23,000 cases, it led to hospitalization, and 450 people actually died as a result. We’d say licking that spatula isn’t worth it.

What else in cookie dough can make you sick?

Flour. In its raw form, flour may contain a dreaded strain of E. coli. In 2016, 63 people across 24 states contracted E. coli from flour products, according to the CDC. The only way the bacteria is killed is through heat, like when you bake the dough into cookies.

How can you avoid getting sick from cookie dough?

The steps the CDC suggests are straightforward and simple to follow. Basically, all you have to do is have the restraint not to sink your teeth into a spoonful of raw cookie dough. Also, don’t let children handle the dough until it has been thoroughly cooked (you know they want to lick their fingers, which can lead to them eating raw dough). And lastly, make sure to bake the cookie dough at the designated temperature and for as long as the recipe or instructions on the package state. For more ways to stay healthy (but still indulge) this holiday season, check out 20 Healthy Cookie Recipes That Won’t Derail Your Diet.

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