Batters are in their prime with the high demand for pies, cakes, cookies, and other desserts during the holiday season. Sometimes, while baking up Gramma’s chocolate chip or Mom’s sugar batter cookies, we sneak a taste test in to make sure our recipe is on the right track. However, as tempting as it is, you should fight the urge to lick the mixing bowl and spoon or worse, eat the batter itself. This practice may seem harmless in tradition, but there are some safety concerns you should be aware of before passing that spoon to your child.
It’s tempting to lick that sweet, sticky batter-coated spoon, but the raw ingredients for cookies can be harmful to ingest. The culprit for spreading E. coli, surprisingly enough, isn’t just the raw eggs: it’s in the flour.
Since flour is rarely consumed raw (i.e. straight from the paper package), it isn’t treated with treated with the same precautionary process to kill harmful pathogens. That’s typically reserved for baking, a high-temperature cooking method that normally kills off unwanted bacteria or pathogens. Even those pre-made cookies you find in your grocery’s freezer can become dangerous when eaten before being cooked because they still contain uncooked eggs.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study on the 2009 rash of outbreaks surrounding ready-to-bake cookie dough and arrived at two conclusions: Cookie dough manufacturers should reconfigure their current recipes to make them more friendly to the ready-to-eat consumers they attract. The CDC also concluded the need for more effective education to be distributed to consumers.
In 2009 alone, 77 people became infected with E. coli from uncooked dough, 35 of which were hospitalized. We encourage you to be safe with your tasting, be safe, and make the most of your holiday treats.
Niel, K., Biggerstaff, K., MacDonald, K., Trees, E., Medus, C., Musser, K., Strokia, S., & Zink, D. (2011). A novel vehicle for transmission of escherichia coli o157:h7 to humans: Multistate outbreak of e. coli o157:h7 infections associated with consumption of ready-to-bake commercial prepackaged cookie dough. Oxford Journals, Retrieved from http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/cid/prpaper.pdf
By Tiffany Black