Eating raw cookie dough could make you sick—and it’s not just because of the eggs. The CDC issued a warning last Monday urging people to avoid dough and cake batter due to both the risk of salmonella from raw eggs and E. coli from uncooked flour.
“Flour is typically a raw agricultural product. This means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs like Escherichia coli (E. coli),” the CDC explained in a press release. “Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or at other steps as flour is produced. The bacteria are killed when food made with flour is cooked.” The agency also reminded consumers that there was a flour recall in 2016 due to E. coli contamination, so people should check the flour in their pantry before using it.
Eggs should be cooked thoroughly before consuming, as well, to avoid salmonella which can cause food poisoning. The CDC notes that symptoms of food poisoning, like fever, diarrhea or abdominal cramps, will typically appear within 48 hours of being in contact with the undercooked food and can last for 4 to 7 days.
To be safe, the CDC advises people to always follow the package directions or recipe when baking this holiday season to make sure both flour and eggs are properly cooked and to never use raw dough or batter in things like milkshakes or ice cream. Parents should also keep in mind that kids can contract E. coli from playing with raw flour or using it for crafts, so they should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward.