The FDA raw cookie dough warning isn’t for the reason you think

The FDA has issued a warning to consumers to not eat raw cookie dough and other products with untreated flour due to an E. coli risk.
(Larry Crowe / Associated Press)
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The FDA means it this time: Stop eating raw cookie dough.

We know we aren’t technically supposed to eat raw cookie dough. The raw eggs are a salmonella risk. But if we’re all being really, truly honest with ourselves, and with one another, we can acknowledge we’ve eaten raw cookie dough before, and we probably didn’t get sick from it.

But this time, the eggs aren’t the problem. The flour is.

On May 31, General Mills issued a recall of 10 million pounds of flour over concerns the product was linked to an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened at least 38 people across 20 states. E. coli bacteria are killed by heat, so anything you’ve baked, fried, sautéed or otherwise cooked is safe.

The recall includes big-name brands like Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchens. You can find the exact products that are recalled here.


So it’s not only cookie dough that could make you sick — it’s anything you made with flour but haven’t cooked. However, most of us probably aren’t sampling bread dough or breaded chicken breasts while they’re still raw. On June 28, the FDA issued a warning specific to cookie dough about the risk. (You might want to avoid licking the cake batter spoon, too.)

People who cook or bake with flour should make sure to wash their hands and clean any affected surfaces thoroughly once they’re done. In addition to staying away from raw cookie dough and cake batter, parents should be on the lookout for homemade Play-Doh, a popular Pinterest craft made with flour.

Symptoms of E. coli include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most healthy adults will recover in three or four days, but it can be very dangerous and even deadly for children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

Some good news for people who still need their raw cookie dough fix: Raw cookie dough ice cream sold in stores is safe. The dough in those products is made with treated flour and pasteurized eggs.

If you’re craving cookies (in their baked form, of course), try our recipe for what might be the greatest peanut butter cookies ever made.

Find Jessica Roy on Twitter @jessica_roy.