U.S.

Is it bad to eat raw cookie dough? FDA commissioner gives Dr. Seuss answer

The guilty pleasure of treating oneself, or the children, to some sweet-tasting cookie dough during the holidays probably seems as innocent as sliding table scraps to the pup at Thanksgiving.

The holiday season typically brings more cooking, more smells and more tasty kitchen samples. However, some of those might not be ready for consumption, no matter how safe they may seem.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in its goodwill, says uncooked cookie dough or cake batter can make people sick.

Not to be outdone on the Christmas spirit, the director of the FDA channeled his inner Dr. Seuss when asked about ingesting uncooked pastries. He had no intentions of sounding like a Grinch, but rather a 21st-century Sam I am.

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said do not eat them here, there or anywhere.

“You can not eat it in a house, You can not eat it with a mouse;

We do not like it here or there, We do not like it anywhere;

We do not like raw chocolate chip cookie dough, We do not like it, #FDA we are."

Okay, the last sentence didn’t necessarily rhyme, but the FDA commissioner is trying to make a point of avoiding uncooked pastry dishes, especially those cookies, cakes, breads, pizzas and pie shells.

This report from The Washington Post states that 60 people who ate raw dough eventually came down with E. coli in 2016. 

“When you’re making cookies, often the recipe calls for raw eggs,” said Lindsay Malone, a registered dietitian, in this report. “Whenever you consume raw eggs, you increase your risk of salmonella poisoning.” Malone also said “when there’s a risk for salmonella, you really want to be cautious and take steps to avoid it as much as possible.”

Then again, not every health expert is a stickler to the rules, and they’re willing to bend a little when it comes to enjoying licking the batter from the spoon or the whipped frosting from a stand-up mixer.

“To start, when most people think about health risks and cookie dough, they think about raw egg. Eggs can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria, and food safety recommendations encourage people to cook eggs until the white and yolk are firm in order to kill any bacteria,” said Brian Zikmund-Fisher, associate professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan, in this piece from The Conversation. “Because of this concern, when my kids and I make cookie dough, we never use regular eggs. Instead, we use eggs that have been pasteurized to kill any harmful bacteria without actually cooking the egg itself. (A great public health innovation, if you ask me!) So, I wasn’t worried about the eggs in the cookie dough.”

Join the Discussion