Guru Kate: Killer cookie dough

Killer cookie dough by Nick Foote.

Is it actually dangerous to eat raw cookie dough?

Cookie dough is pretty darn broad, so I’m going to look at each and every type of cookie (according to the Joy of Cooking). You’ve got your drop cookies (chocolate chip), pressed cookies, molded cookies, shortbread cookies, meringues, thumbprint cookies, bar and square cookies, no-bakes, biscotti, sandwich cookies and many more.

Essentially, the only category you don’t need to worry about are no-bakes. Coincidentally, these are the easiest category to enjoy! However, for the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on chocolate chips cookies, because we all know that they’re the best, and actually could pose a risk of food poisoning if eaten raw.

As everyone has heard when they’re little, eating raw eggs will make you violently ill and hate sugar. However, as we grow old and test the waters, we find that cookie dough isn’t harmless. Well, until it becomes harmful.

Salmonella species are the cause of said harm. These bacteria naturally occurs in our (and other animal’s) intestines, but becomes devilish when it is in parts of the intestines that can’t handle its funky nature.

Outbreaks have occurred in more foods than I can list in this article. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were outbreaks amongst ground beef, alfalfa sprouts, cantaloupe, papayas and pine nuts in 2011 alone.

In fact, there wasn’t even a shell egg outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis (that’s the fancy science name for it) in 2011. Or 2006, 2007, 2008, or 2009.

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In fact, the only major outbreak reported by the CDC within the past six years occurred in 2010. That was the one that made major national news for months over the summer.

Just because it doesn’t happen often doesn’t mean that it’s okay to eat raw eggs willy-nilly. And I’m not just saying that for legal reasons. There’s quite a bit of common sense behind why there have been so few sicknesses; kids listen to their parents when they tell them to not eat raw cookie dough.

Less consumption of raw eggs means less chance of sicknesses. This is like the Magna Carta of food safety, as in no one is exempt from the law, not even the king.