Cookies are as much of a part of the holidays as wrapped presents and watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” In this often hectic season, sometimes we resort to taking shortcuts with our baking and buy ready-to-bake cookie dough. If that’s something you do, be warned: don’t eat the raw dough.


In 2009, Nestlé recalled raw cookie dough after people in several states became ill from E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating the dough raw. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report it conducted about the outbreak. Scientists were never able to pinpoint exactly which ingredient in the raw cookie dough contained the E. coli, but they have a suspicion.


It could have been the flour. Flour doesn’t go through the process of having pathogens killed off like other ingredients such as eggs, sugar, and margarine go through. If it was the flour that caused the outbreak, an outbreak could happen again.


The message the CDC wants to get out is for consumers to stop eating raw, ready-to-bake cookie dough. Bake it before you eat it.


What about homemade cookie dough? That’s up to you. I’ve never gotten sick from eating homemade cookie dough and neither have my children. I can imagine that most of you reading this post would say the same. But, if you’re using store-bought flour (and I imagine that most of you don’t mill your own flour — I certainly don’t), there’s a chance that it or some of the other ingredients you use could be contaminated. It’s not just cookie dough; any raw dough or batter has the potential to be contaminated.


I doubt I’ll be able to get though the holiday season without sneaking a bit of raw cookie dough, but it won’t be of the ready-to-bake variety. How about you? Are you avoiding all raw dough and batter or might you throw caution to the wind and lick the bowl?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.