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Live Well. Eat Well.

Don’t eat the dough: 4 food safety tips to follow this holiday season

dough in mixing bowl on flour-covered counter with fresh eggs

Transform your kitchen into a safe mini bakery this holiday season. Holiday baking brings family and friends together and creates lasting memories as friends share recipes, stories, and meaningful time together.  

Amid the flurry of flour-covered countertops and mountains of messy mixing bowls, keep food safety in mind. Make sure that your holiday baked goods bring you nothing but deliciousness by taking precautionary measures to prevent foodborne illness.

Know the dangers

We have all heard not to eat raw dough. Here’s why. Raw dough and batters contain raw eggs and flour, two ingredients that can lead to food poisoning if eaten raw.

  • Raw eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria.
  • Flour, from its original grain form in the field through the processed stage sold to consumers, may contain the harmful bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Both bacteria can cause mild to severe symptoms of food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both bacteria are killed when heated to the right temperature for the required period of time.

If you enjoy raw cooking dough, purchase edible cookie dough that has been pasteurized. These products are made with heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs, or no eggs. Read the label carefully to be sure the product can be eaten raw.

Reduce the risk

To reduce the risk of illness, follow the four steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. 


  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and during baking, including after handling raw eggs and flour or unbaked batters and doughs.
  • Wear an apron, tie back hair, remove jewelry, and avoid licking fingers.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils frequently.
  • Clean kitchen countertops with a bleach solution (one teaspoon of unscented liquid bleach per four cups of water), rinse, and air dry.
  • Wash bowls and equipment in a dishwasher or with hot, soapy water. This includes cookie presses and cutters, measuring cups and spoons, spatulas and scrapers, and mixer parts.
  • Use clean dishcloths and oven mitts.
  • Keep bleach wipes or solution handy to wash countertops in between baking.


  • Keep raw eggs and flour separate from other ingredients, including cooling racks or finished baked goods. Flour can spread easily.
  • Chop and dice fruit, nuts, and chocolate on clean cutting boards that are used for ready-to-eat foods, like vegetables, away from raw eggs and flour.
  • Wash equipment and cutting boards that come in contact with raw eggs or flour dust in a dishwasher or hot, soapy water.


  • Cook dough and batters before consuming.
  • Follow the directions for cooking baked goods at the proper temperature and time.


  • Follow recipe directions.
  • Refrigerate raw dough immediately after preparing it until it is ready to be baked.
  • Refrigerate baked goods that contain cream, such as cream frostings, custards, no-bake cookies, or cheese fillings, as well as egg-based recipes, such as bread pudding.
  • Keep baked goods covered to prevent contamination. Store them in a refrigerator or at room temperature depending on recipe directions.

Enjoy holiday traditions and use these easy food safety tips for handling raw food products safely, the perfect combination for a delicious holiday!

Find more resources for making safe and healthy food choices at or connect with experts at your local Extension office by visiting


Susan Glassman is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension who helps residents in Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, and Putnam Counties — and throughout Illinois — improve their health by offering evidence-based nutrition programs that deepen knowledge, develop awareness, and build skills for positive behavior changes. Her programs promote food safety, food preservation, chronic disease prevention and management, and nutrition and wellness education. She fosters relationships for food access and coalition-building through the development of nutrition policy, food systems, and environments in the Illinois Nutrition Education Program. Susan also administers programming at the Extension Education Center & Community Teaching Kitchen in LaSalle, IL.