What Happens If You Eat Raw Cookie Dough?

It's almost certain that for as long as people have been baking cookies, people have also been eating raw cookie dough. And just like cookies, cookie dough is pretty hard to resist. After all, how is one supposed to know if those chocolate chip cookies are going to taste any good if they don't shove a few spoonfuls of the dough in their mouth first? It's a taste test for quality, of course. 

Well, before you go in for another spoonful, it would be wise to dig into why eating raw cookie dough may not be the sweetest idea. 

The potential dangers of eating raw cookie dough

The issue with raw cookie dough is that it's typically made with eggs, and consuming uncooked eggs can put you at risk for sickness from germs such as salmonella. Eating raw eggs may have been the "breakfast of champions" for Rocky Balboa, but the movie never showed the part where Rocky was bent over the toilet with painful cramps.

"Raw cookie dough contains both raw agriculture and animal products, both of which can carry bacteria which may be harmful to us," senior clinical dietitian at Texas Children's Hospital, Kristi King, told CBS News. "If you eat raw cookie dough, it's not to say you will absolutely get sick, but you raise your risk significantly in taking that gamble."

Also, it's not just the eggs in raw cookie dough that pose a threat, but the flour as well. Flour isn't inherently stricken with E. coli, but it can become contaminated during the manufacturing process. While your oven will kill any bacteria lurking in the grains, the germs will still be present in raw cookie dough. If you eat raw cookie dough made with flour where E. coli is present, you could get sick.

Is there a safe way to eat raw cookie dough?

The Center for Disease Control and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are pretty straightforward when it comes to eating raw cookie dough — just don't. That's not to say that everyone agrees, however, and Brian Zikmund-Fisher, a professor of health education at the University of Michigan, argues that its all about precaution and risk.

Writing for Discover, Zikmund-Fisher says that when he makes cookies with his children he always uses pasteurized egg products over raw eggs to cancel out the potential for salmonella. Zikmund-Fisher says that he's also careful to use flour known to not be part of any E. coli recall and feels that the FDA and CDC's advisories are for each person to make their own judgment call on. Life is full of risks and as Zikmund-Fisher sees things, for those who choose to do so, that may include "some (carefully prepared) cookie dough without shame."

However, it must be said that if you choose to eat raw cookie dough, you do so at your own risk.