From the Harnett County Department of Public Health
For many people, the holiday season is the perfect time to spend time together in the kitchen and share baked foods and desserts. Raw food products that are intended for cooking or baking before consumption are not necessarily safe to eat before they are cooked, such as raw cookie dough. Cooking these products kills harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, and keeps you and your family safe.
Public health officials with the Harnett County Health Department are advising consumers not to eat any raw cookie dough or other raw dough products before the dough is properly cooked because you could get sick.
Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Consumers can reduce their risk of getting sick by not eating them raw. As tempting as it is to sample cookie dough or cake batter do not veer from the recommendations on the package according to public health officials.
Tasting raw cookie dough or raw cake batter that contains raw eggs is risky. Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay. To be safe, avoid tasting raw batter, filling or raw cookie dough that contains raw eggs. Always cook eggs thoroughly to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
Avoid foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs, especially by young children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases. Children who eat raw cookie dough and cake batter are at greater risk of getting food poisoning than most adults. Young children are more at risk for foodborne illness because their immune systems are still developing.
Whether it’s pre-packaged or homemade, cooking these products kills harmful bacteria, and is required to kill germs that might be in the raw ingredients. Public health officials recommend following these safe food-handling practices to stay healthy when handling raw dough.
• Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
• Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
• Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
• Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
• Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
• Do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
• Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
• Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
• Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough.
• Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces that they have touched.
• Wash bowls, utensils, countertops and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.
For more information, contact the Harnett County Health Department at (910) 893-7550 or log onto the Health Department’s website located at www.harnett.org/ health.