Is It Safe to Eat Raw Dough?

Maybe you’ve had plenty of experience eating raw dough — a taste of cookie dough, a smidgen of unbaked pie crust, or a fingerful of cake batter. You’ve been eating it your entire life, and you’ve never been sick from it. You let your children eat raw dough and they haven’t gotten sick either. This doesn’t mean that it’s safe to eat raw dough, however. It just means that you have been fortunate enough not to get sick.

Is it safe to eat raw dough?

The short answer is no. Eating raw dough made with flour or eggs can make you sick. Raw dough may contain bacteria such as E. coli or Salmonella. 

Raw flour has not been treated to kill or remove harmful pathogens, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Flour can be contaminated anywhere along the way, from the field to your pantry shelf. Germs can find their way into raw flour during harvesting, processing, or shipping, and in your grocery cart or at home.

Raw eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria, and should never be consumed raw or undercooked.

Breads, cookies, cakes, biscuits, and any other baked good should always be fully cooked before it is eaten. This includes packaged mixes. Brownie mixes, cake mixes, etc. may contain raw flour, and many of these prepackaged mixes call for raw eggs.

Baking the flour and cooking the eggs kills these pathogens that may cause illness.

What can happen if you eat raw dough?

It is not safe to eat raw dough. You can’t see E. coli, Salmonella, or other harmful bacteria that could make your sick, and it’s not worth the risk.

Symptoms from E. coli infections typically occur 3 or 4 days after the bacteria enters the system. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

Salmonella infections show symptoms within hours after the bacteria enters the system. You may start to experience symptoms 6 to 48 hours after eating contaminated food. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, fever, chills, blood in the stool, and headaches.

People typically recover from these infections within a week and without the need for treatment. However, both E. coli and Salmonella infections can cause serious complications, and they can be fatal. These infections are especially dangerous for young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

It’s better not to risk it, and wait for your cookie timer to go off.