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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a warning about eating raw cookie dough.  In a page dedicated to the issue, CDC cautions, “When you prepare homemade cookie dough, cake mixes, or even bread, you may be tempted to taste a bite before it is fully cooked. But steer clear of this temptation — eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick.”  The CDC states that uncooked flour could contain e coli bacteria and that raw eggs pose a risk of getting sick from salmonella. On the surface, those sound pretty bad. It’s important to put things in perspective. Sure, eating cookie dough can make you sick — but it probably won’t.

The truth is that eating raw cookie dough is probably worth the risk.

It’s estimated that only about 1 in 20,000 eggs contain salmonella.  As far as flour, yes, there was an e coli outbreak in 2016 tied to flour that is believed to have caused 63 people to get sick. But that this is not a common occurrence, and even taking it into account, it’s a small number given that Americans consume on average of 130 pounds of wheat flour per capita each year.

Sure, it’s possible that a batch of cookie dough you make could contain relatively rare infected eggs or flour, but Americans routinely engage in risky business.  Adults and their kids ride bikes, ski, play sports, eat at restaurants whose kitchens they haven’t  thoroughly vetted, and so on. At the end, they determine that the fun is worth the risk.  Why shouldn’t the same logic apply to cookie dough? If you routinely make large bowls of cookie dough purely for the purpose of raw consumption, it will increase your odds of getting sick. However, if you make a batch of cookies and lick some raw leftover dough off of the spoon, the risk of getting sick is statistically low.  But, there are no guarantees. If you’re a risk-averse person, you may want to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming raw dough and keep it from your children. But if you decide to indulge in some cookie dough while baking, you shouldn’t feel guilty — you will more likely than not be fine.