Some may say that raw cookie dough is better than the baked cookie itself. However, raw cookie dough eaters are taking a risk with foodborne illness. Most know that eating cookie dough with raw eggs runs the risk of contracting Salmonella. But this isn’t the only ingredient that deems it risky behavior.
The raw flour in cookie dough can also make you sick. Wheat fields can become contaminated with bacteria, such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli via animal waste. While the grain gets milled into flour, it typically does not get heat treated, and thus is considered “raw.” If the flour is not heated to the proper temperature in the correct amount of time, harmful pathogens are not killed. This knowledge has led many food bloggers to recommend heating the flour in the oven or microwave first. So does this practice really make the flour safe?
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that heating the flour will eliminate harmful pathogens. Flour, which is low in moisture, is more heat resistant so simply heating it to 165°F like we do chicken, may not necessarily destroy Salmonella. More research is needed to scientifically validate a safe method of heating flour. In the meantime, you’ll need to resist the urge to eat raw dough or batter, even when made without eggs. If this is too far of a stretch, use oat flour and replace any eggs with pasteurized eggs. Oats are made by steaming, rolling flat and heating, a process which destroys pathogens and ensures safety. Buy commercially made oat flour or simply grind your own oats using a food processor. Next time you go to eat raw cookie dough, think twice!
Purdue University. Home kitchen heat-treated flour doesn’t protect against foodborne illnesses, Purdue food scientist says.
Iowa State Extension. Safe edible cookie dough.
About the Author
Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.