It’s one of the tastiest things about baking cookies, but it could also leave you violently ill.
Sadly, we are talking about raw cookie dough, that delicious way to sate hunger as you dream of the warm cookies currently baking in your oven.
But whatever you do this year, don’t eat that raw cookie dough, or really anything with raw flour — it could give you E. coli, the Food and Drug Administration is warning again. That’s because last year, dozens of people became ill with a strain of the bacteria that was also found in raw dough they had eaten or handled.
E. coli symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramps that usually resolve within a week. In rare cases, a form of kidney failure can happen.
That outbreak started in Dec. 2015 and ended the following September, sickening 63 people, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that determined that it was the flour in the dough that was making people ill.
“It’s a new view of flour,” Dr. Marguerite A. Neill, an expert on foodborne illnesses, said to The New York Times about the study. “It would have seemed incredible that this dry, powdery substance, stored on a shelf for months, could have a live micro-organism that didn’t spoil the flour but still could make someone sick.”
“It sounds like I’m being a killjoy,” she added.
Even if she was, that outbreak wasn’t the first time cookie dough made dozens ill, as 77 people become ill in 2009 with E. coli, the Times reported. Again, flour in the cookie dough is the suspected culprit.
That’s why the FDA is urging people to stop eating cookie dough and keep their children from even playing with raw flour at home or at a restaurant that might hand it out. According to Science News, multiple children got sick after restaurants gave them raw tortilla flour to hold while waiting for food.
That also means you shouldn’t consume raw batter for pizza, tortillas or bread. And of course, make sure to cook raw products at the recommended heat and wash your hands after handling any raw food material.
Still, you don’t have to give up all cookie dough — just the raw kind.