E. coli VS Cookie Dough

This press release is just screaming for a comment from Science Momma.  It’s like a summer blockbuster, tailored specifically to my interests.  It’s got everything: bacteria, carbohydrates, and ninjas!  Well, okay, so no ninjas, but we can just pretend, right?

Raw cookie dough is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  What’s not to love?  It’s cookie, but it’s creamy.  The butter and sugar and chocolate chips taste so much better before they’re cooked!  You can pick out the individual flavors, and in my mind, there is nothing more pure and wonderful than margarine creamed with brown sugar.  Yummy!

Unfortunately, as parents and as people who had parents raising us, we’ve told and been told not to eat raw cookie dough.  It’ll get you sick.  I’ve never actually met anyone who listens to that, but it’s still something that people say.  Well, an outbreak of E. coli food poisoning in 2009 was traced to premade raw cookie dough, proving that maybe we should listen to our parents, and ourselves.

Of course pre-packaged raw cookie dough is meant to be cooked.  That’s what the commercials on TV tell us!  But raw cookie dough, as mentioned before, has been scientifically proven to be delicious!  (Data: I am a scientist.  Cookie dough is delicious.  Therefore, cookie dough has been scientifically proven to be delicious).  And the message is clear: cookie dough is a great pick me up, after a bad day at work, a breakup, a day when baby decides not to nap.  TV has told us this, as well.  Some of the patients even admitted to buying the cookie dough specifically to eat it raw.

So, does this outbreak mean that we should stop eating raw cookie dough?  Well, it might not be the best idea, particularly if you’re immuno-compromised in some way (chronic illness, pregnancy, super young, or super old).  However, there’s not enough information available at this point.  Were the people who got sick enough to go the hospital immuno-compromised in any way?  What ages were they?  And most importantly, how much cookie dough did they eat?  When I eat raw cookie dough, I’m normally just licking the beaters, spoons, bowls, etc.  However, a lot of people may be tempted to just take a spoon to the cookie dough, and this might be the case for these patients.

Moral of the story:

Yes, you can get sick from eating raw cookie dough.  You can get sick from eating a lot of things, though.  Just be smart to keep yourself and your family as safe as you can.  Wash your produce before eating, keep your food out of your baby’s diapers, and most importantly: don’t overdo the raw cookie dough.  Better just stick to ice cream.

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