If you decide to bake some cookies to bring to a Memorial Day BBQ, don’t be tempted to take a bite of that raw dough – even if it does look delicious. New salmonella cases reinforce the risks of eating dough raw.
According a Monday news release from the Washington State Department of Health, cases of Salmonella have been linked to raw chocolate chip cookie dough and raw s’mores bars dough from Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza at multiple locations in the state.
“The company has discontinued selling the raw cookie dough products at this time,” said the notice.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that can infect the intestinal tract and blood. Symptoms appear one to three days after exposure and can include: diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort and occasional vomiting.
These symptoms can last for about a week and usually are resolved with fluids and rest. However, children younger than 5 years old, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems “may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization,” said the Washington health department.
So far, six cases of illness in the state linked to the cookie dough have been reported in individuals age 15 to 54, four who said they consumed the cookie dough raw. One person had been hospitalized as of Monday. An investigation is ongoing and the ingredient causing the contamination is currently unknown.
Customers who may have already purchased the products are advised to throw them away. Washington’s health department also advised baking raw cookie dough before eating it.
“Be sure to thoroughly wash and sanitize utensils and surfaces that may have touched the cookie dough products,” it said. “Those who have eaten the raw cookie dough products and feel ill should consult their health care provider immediately.”
Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its “Say No to Raw Dough” fact sheet about raw cookie dough. While many people may be aware that cookie dough recipes that call for raw eggs could contain Salmonella, others may not know that flour cold contain the bacteria as well.
“Flour doesn’t look like a raw food, but most flour is raw. That means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs that cause food poisoning, such as Escherichia coli (E.coli) and Salmonella,” said the CDC. “These harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or flour while it’s being made. Steps like grinding grain and bleaching flour don’t kill harmful germs – and these germs can end up in flour or baking mixes you buy at the store. You can get sick if you eat unbaked dough or batter made with flour containing germs. Germs are killed only when flour is baked or cooked.”
Outbreaks linked to raw flour or cake mix have been investigated by the CDC in 2016, 2019, 2021, and this year. Since flour products have a long shelf life and some of these investigations lead to recalls, the CDC recommends people check their pantries regularly for recalled or expired products. It also offers other tips for handling raw flour, eggs and batter.
For those who find it hard to resist taking a bite of cookie dough, some companies do make edible versions, such as Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cookie Dough. Check labels to make sure dough is safe before eating.