Don’t eat the cookie dough!

A recent study published by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases noted that 33 of 35 people admitted to the hospital during the 2009 E.coli outbreak in the United States mentioned consuming pre-packaged commercial cookie dough before getting sick.

After the investigation, the source of contamination was undetermined. However, three strains of the bacteria — known as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) — in one brand of cookie dough is enough to steer people away from eating the dough, medical experts say.

The flour used in raw cookie dough is likely at the root of many serious stomach illnesses since it doesn’t undergo a “kill step” during processing to eliminate pathogens, unlike most of the other ingredients used to make the dough.

Dr. Karen Neil, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in an interview from Atlanta, “What our report shows is that you shouldn’t eat cookie dough raw, no matter where it comes from. It’s supposed to be baked. My recommendation, the general recommendation, is that you should not consume raw cookie dough, regardless of who makes it, whether it’s made at home or as a commercial product. That is the safest thing to avoid illness.”

The investigation led to the recall of 3.6 million packages of cookie dough.

The good news? You can still consume raw cookie dough in ice cream safely, as the preperation process for it is different from that of ready-to-bake dough.

Neil noted, “The cookie dough in ice cream was meant to be consumed raw. It’s formulated as a ready-to-eat product. The cookie dough that is labeled “ready-to-bake” in the refrigerator section of the grocery store – or even the dough that you make at home – should be cooked before you eat it.”

The report concludes that foods containing raw flour should be considered a potential vehicle for E.coli outbreaks, and that manufacturers of these products should start using heat-treated or pasteurized flour in any ready-to-cook products they make.

Some manufacturers like Nestle have already switched to the heat-treated flour.

Sources:,,, CDC

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