Skip the Raw Cookie Dough - It Can Make You Sick

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning just in time for holiday baking. Raw cookie dough can make us sick with a form of E. coli known as STEC.

Even though Mom warned me against doing it, sneaking a taste of raw cookie dough when her back was turned, was impossible to resist. But once again, Mom was right! Delicious raw cookie dough can make us sick with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

Christmas baking is one of those intergenerational experiences that we fondly remember doing with our moms and enjoy doing with our kids, often passing on traditional family recipes. The smells of holiday baking have the power to evoke memories of holidays past.

But researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a warning that eating raw cookie dough, whether homemade or commercially prepared, could cause bacterial gastrointestinal illness.

In a study released on Friday, 33 out of 35 Americans who were admitted to hospital during an E. coli outbreak in 2009 reported eating a commercial type of prepared raw cookie dough. Although the source of the outbreak was never conclusively proved, there was enough evidence to suspect cookie dough was the culprit.

Other food sources of STEC

  • undercooked ground beef
  • red leaf lettuce and Romaine lettuce
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • venison jerky
  • contaminated water

Watch for these symptoms

  • severe abdominal cramps
  • watery, even bloody, diarrhea
  • vomitting
  • low-grade fever
  • consult a health care practitioner if symptoms are severe

Who’s most likely to become infected

  • children under 5 years old
  • the elderly

So before you dip your finger into the mixing bowl, remember Mom’s and the CDC’s warnings. A little bit of patience and you’ll be rewarded with a warm cookie fresh from the oven—and it’s even tastier than raw cookie dough.


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