Is it safe for children to eat raw cookie dough?
Health authorities and food producers recommend against it, but it’s unclear how much of a risk it poses.
Eating raw cookie dough, with eggs that haven’t been pasteurized or flour that hasn’t been heat-treated, has infected people in the past with E. coli and Salmonella. Both bacterial infections are typically painful but only temporary, although they can be fatal to people with weak immune systems.
However, there are few statistics available about how often these infections occur, and whether it’s significantly more likely than infection from other foods.
Why do different sources disagree about whether parents can feed their kids raw cookie dough?
Because new research is still coming out about how dangerous the ingredients in cookie dough can be, and some people’s personal philosophies are that the taste of raw cookie dough is worth the risk.
Health authorities, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strictly advise parents to never feed their children raw cookie dough. Some people believe those prohibitions exaggerate the risk.
We have reviewed dozens of trustworthy sources online and haven’t found any statistics to actually quantify what the risk is, and whether it’s dramatically more or less dangerous than other activities. We are continuing to conduct research to try and provide a clearer answer.
Why should I trust you?
Our articles are short and direct so parents can quickly get the answers they need, but there’s lengthy research behind everything we publish. If you’d like to check our facts and learn more, here are the best sources we found and used for this article:
- “Say No to Raw Dough!” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- “Step away from the cookie dough. E. coli outbreaks traced to raw flour” from Science News.
- “Shiga Toxin–Producing E. coli Infections Associated with Flour” from The New England Journal of Medicine.
- “Why public health worries don’t have to ruin your cookie dough” from The Conversation.
- “Why Eggs Are Not the Only Danger in Raw Cookie Dough” from Cleveland Clinic.
- “Avoid an E. Coli Infection From Flour” from Consumer Reports.
- “Eating Raw Cookie Dough Actually Can Be Deadly” from Munchies.
- “Is any cookie dough safe to eat?” from USA Today.
- “Thanks a Lot! New Reasons Not to Eat Cookie Dough” from The New York Times.
- “Raw Dough’s a Raw Deal and Could Make You Sick” from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
- “Raw Food Warning: Why Uncooked Flour Can Make You Sick” from Live Science.
- “The Microbiology of Raw Cookie Dough” from Modernist Cuisine.
- “Salmonella Fact Sheet” from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- “E. Coli Fact Sheet” from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- “The FDA’s Abstinence-Only Approach to Eating Cookie Dough Is Unrealistic and Alarmist” from Slate.
- “A Novel Vehicle for Transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to Humans: Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Associated With Consumption of Ready-to-Bake Commercial Prepackaged Cookie Dough—United States, 2009” from Clinical Infectious Diseases.