For many, a sneaky few bites of some cookie dough feels mostly harmless. It’s sweet, it has a mushy texture and it’s incredibly addictive. The sad reality for us cookie dough lovers, however, is that it’s also a big health risk because cookie dough, of all things, can be dangerous for more reasons than one.
It happens every time I make a batch of cookies. After neatly placing them on a tray, I’m left with some extra cookie dough that doesn’t quite fit. Tasked with having to use another tray for a few stray cookies, I opt for a better solution — I’ll eat the remaining cookie dough, as a little treat.
But as numerous food authorities point out, that little treat could cause serious food poisoning thanks to two nasty strains of bacteria that are often lurking in it.
See I know full well that eating raw cookie dough is a risk but the hedonistic demon in me is just willing to risk a night of vomiting and whatever else to have a moment of culinary nirvana. Reading what might actually happen, however, has put a dampener on my foolish habit.
According to the Food Safety Information Council, Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli, is a bacteria that can dangerous to humans and is found in unpasteurised apple and orange juices, raw meat, fruits and vegetables, raw flour and, of course, cookie dough. The easiest way to kill it off is by cooking it.
If you do get E. coli poisoning, you’ll start to feel the symptoms within three to four days. According to the US’s health authority, CDC, they can include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Though less common, some people can also experience kidney failures and ultimately, death.
It’s not just the flour that can cause the food poisoning, eggs are a major culprit too. Rather than E. coli being the only bad guy at play here, Salmonella’s also taking the fun out of cookie dough for us. While the eggs supplied in supermarkets are washed to an extent, they pass through environments that re-infect them with the bacteria, according to the Food Safety Information Council. Like E. coli, simply cooking the egg properly is enough to kill it off.
The CDC says once you’re hit with Salmonella, you’ll feel symptoms anywhere between six hours to six days. It can typically include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and can last between four to seven days.
If you decide the risks — which might include literal death — don’t outweigh the goodness of raw cookie dough, at least you now know why it’s a big roll of the dice. For me, I’ll be getting that second tray out for the stray cookie dough. It might not be as satisfying but avoiding the potential food poisoning and incapacitation will make it all the more sweeter.
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