Is Raw Cookie Dough Safe to Eat?

From time to time, I get offers for guest posts on this site. Recently, I was submitted one entitled: Is Raw Cookie Dough Safe to Eat? I was quite excited to read this post because I do have some opinions on the matter. The joke in my family is that you have to make twice as much cookie dough as you need to make your cookies because I will eat the rest.

A ball of chocolate chip cookie dough ready fo...

A ball of chocolate chip cookie dough ready for baking. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, I had to reject the article. It was just factually incorrect. The overall message of the article was no, it isn’t. But in reality, raw cookie dough is safe to eat.

Raw Eggs and Salmonella

The big reason that people get the impression about cookie dough safety is the eggs. Raw cookie dough is obviously going to contain raw eggs. People have become so afraid of salmonella that any raw poultry product is assumed contaminated.

The risk of salmonella infection is only about 1 in 30,000 in the first place. That’s pretty low. Looked at another way, the average consumer would come across an egg that had been contaminated with salmonella once every 84 years. In other words, longer than I plan on being around.

But here’s the kicker. Eggs sold commercially in the US are pasteurized! So while eggs sold at a farm stand stand a 0.005% chance of being unsafe, eggs in the supermarket are safer to eat than the fresh produce.

Food safety warnings

Another point the rejected article brought up was food safety warnings. If you ever buy a package of cookie dough, you will see food safety warnings warning that the food must be cooked to a certain temperature and is unsafe to eat raw.

Want to know why that warning is there? Because the lawyers made them do it. They want to limit their risk of getting sued as much as possible, so they warn that perfectly safe behaviors are unsafe. I have a package of veggie burgers in the freezer. They are nothing more than patties of vegetable puree. Carrot, tomato, spinach, etc. Produce. All foods that I eat raw on a consistent basis.

Buck the package warns that the patties must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160. This warning has less to do with actual food safety than simple risk management.

So, yes. Raw cookie dough is safe to eat. So go enjoy it.

8 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary Beth Elderton on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    I’m so glad to see this information getting out. I have always eaten raw cookie dough–and brownie and cake batters. I never even heard of a risk until just the past few years.

  2. Posted by Edward Antrobus on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    The first time I even heard of people being concerned about salmonella from eggs was when I watched an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats in which he dismissed the concern for the reasons I stated above.

  3. Posted by Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    I ate raw dough as a kid and never had an issue. Now I don’t eat eggs so my cookie dough is always safe. Not good for the waistline though.

  4. Posted by Edward Antrobus on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    That would be one way of avoiding any potential risk! Thanks for commenting.

  5. Posted by Sean @ One Smart Dollar on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    Raw cookie dough is almost as good as the cookie itself :-)

  6. Posted by Edward Antrobus on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    See, that’s where I have to disagree. Raw cookie dough is even better!

  7. Posted by TB at BlueCollarWorkman on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    Yeah, I”ve been eating raw cookie dough ever since I was a kid. Many many years! And never had a problem. I know that eggs are pasteurized and that that’s supposed to make them AOK if one should be contaminated, but my sister always points out to me how our food system is flawed. THings slip through the cracks. WHich is true. But even so, there’s a small chance anyway of contaminated eggs. And that sliver of a chance of getting sick from eatting raw dough is just so tiny. Like you said, it’s a slim chance. And it’s a chance I”m willing to take and have taken for years. I don’t know anyone who has ever gotten sick from raw eggs, so *shrug*, I’m with you. ((and what is more likely, getting sick from raw eggs or getting in a car accident? But you don’t see people not driving anymore!))

  8. Posted by Edward Antrobus on 22.08.12 at 10:00

    Great point about comparing the risk to that of a car accident.

    If someone is still concerned about the risk of infection from raw eggs, then I would recommend washing the shell before cracking it open. While the shell isn’t impenetrable, it does make a pretty good barrier to infection and any contamination is much more likely to be on the shell than inside it.

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