Raw Cookie Dough: Death On a Spoon?

At last, the video age is upon us. Click on this if you’re wondering if you can let your kids eat raw cookie dough (one of the many parental fears I examine in “Free-Range Kids” — the book):

100 Responses

  1. Ahh, but this presupposes you’re the sort of person who will make real cookies with your kids. Have you examined the risks of the chemicals (eggs aside) in commercial refrigerated cookie dough? Ewww.

  2. Great video I have been saying that ever since first seeing the statistics on Good Eats. A great show to watch with your kids to get them excited about cooking.
    keep up the great work.

  3. Thanks Lenore. I’ve been going on the anecdotal evidence that I’ve been eating cookie dough for nearly thirty years, sometimes lots of it, and have never gotten sick. But it’s nice to have the stats. They’re even better than I expected.

  4. Without being all weird stalker-like on you, I gotta say… I adore you! Thank you for the information, and hopefully someone else wil let their child enjoy the heaven of raw dough – I always eat it too – and hey, dontcha know you can sneak off into the bathroom and enjoy it without sharing??😀

  5. My kid doesn’t believe me that most foods taste good (he’s almost three, so of course he doesn’t). He won’t even eat macaroni and cheese. Now is obviously the time to make cookies with him, because I will get the batter alllllllll to myself.

    Also, I love seeing and hearing bloggers talk! I missed the original television hoopla and never went back to watch the clips (why would I want to see Ann Curry being an idiot? I disconnected my television for a reason and she’s part of it) so this is the first time I’ve heard your voice!

  6. I am completely opposed to feeding kids raw cookie dough.

    Because I refuse to share. The raw cookie dough is MINE. You want your own, make it yourselves…🙂

  7. it never occured to me to even worry about it with my own kids. Now that we have our own chickens I worry even less. (Although I do have friends that won’t let them eat raw cookie dough. But do let them drink Sunny D every day of their life.)

  8. It has never occurred to me to not let them(or myself) eat the dough. Aren’t most eggs at the store pasteurized?

  9. Hasn’t killed me yet.

  10. Since my kids are now all old enough to have this drilled into them and would actually take persuading that it’s okay, I’m probably not going to change at this point and start encouraging them to eat the stuff. But at least I can stop feeling guilty for licking my fingers and occasionally “snitching” while I’m baking. 😉

  11. Melanie:
    EVERYTHING we eat is “chemicals.” If you’re worrying about “unnatural” chemicals in the things we eat… well, keep in mind that Salmonella and E.Coli and Listeria (the Big Three food contaminants that make people sick) are 100% natural. And also keep in mind that dosage matters– we eat and breath a little bit of lots of things that would kill us in higher doses.

    And waterbishop: Nope, eggs in the shell aren’t typically pasteurized.

  12. We eat raw eggs all the time, though I do source my eggs from a neighbor’s co-worker (who keeps a flock of about 80 chickens). I only buy supermarket eggs when I’m desparate because they are so boring and lack “real” egg flavor and nutrients. I want eggs from chickens that can scratch around outside, eating greens, bugs, lizards, and even mice (chickens are omnivorous, not vegetarian, and the nutrients in eggs reflect the chickens’ diet). We go through about 3 dozen eggs a week in our family of three, which is a pretty high consumption rate I think.

    We eat our breakfast eggs sunny side up with runny yolks, cooked in lots of butter. I make a batch of homemade mayo nearly every week with a raw egg or two. I make hollandaise sauce with a raw yolk. I made ice cream with raw eggs. I put raw yolks in smoothies. I make caesar dressing with a raw egg. I make Crema di Mascarpone with raw yolks. I’m not afraid of saturated fat or cholesterol, either! And we use raw milk and cream in our house. We’ve never had salmonella, in fact, since adding these traditional foods to our diets, we’re healthier than we’ve ever been!

    There’s little need to be afraid of food that humans have consumed for eons, unless it is industrially processed food. Like another commenter said, I’d think twice about eating raw commercial cookie dough, and not just because of the egg product inside. I wouldn’t eat cooked commercial cookie.

    Of course, the concentrated sugar and the wheat gluten in cookie dough is another issue entirely…

  13. mmm….concentrated sugar and wheat gluten…mmmm

    Remember the diet…remember the diet….

  14. See, there it is about what you feed your kid.

    Organic, pasture-raised chickens (that is, chickens allowed to go outside and root around for grubs and live like CHICKENS as compared to meat in a box) are less likely to transmit salmonella through the eggs.

    It’s not just humane, it’s better for the humans. (Okay, seriously, they just taste better. Better for the batter! But that’s another rhyme for another time.)

    I don’t let the kids lick the bowl, by the way. The bowl is MINE.

    They get the beaters, and they have to sit on the stairs like good little kiddies so they can’t see me gorging myself.

    Oh, also? If you leave the eggs out, they don’t go bad. I mean, sure, EVENTUALLY… but mostly, eggs don’t actually need refrigerating.

  15. Mmm. I love raw cookie dough too. I’m not about to stop eating it and letting the kids have some too!

  16. My sister and I have eaten raw cookie dough for years, and nothing horrible has happened to us yet. I even eat the cake batter after the eggs have been added. Shock. Gasp. The horror. In all honesty, both are probably better than some of those supposedly “great” and “healthy” prepacked snacks that are so popular nowadays.

  17. Isn’t the whole point of making cookies the raw dough?

    This reminds me of my mother, who at the time was about 50, and the ‘you’ll die if you stuff your turkey, cook it, and then eat the stuffing’ craze. She stopped stuffing the turkey. Hello, what’s the point if it’s not all mushy from the bird and the stuff that stuck out isn’t all crunchy?

    So, I said, mom, what’s with the dry stuffing?

    She said, you can get sick and DIE from stuffing in the bird.

    Me: Hhhmmm. How old are you?

    Her: 50 (or whatever)

    Me: how long have you been eating the stuffing out of the bird?

    Her: all my life?

    Me: are you dead yet?

    Her: no.

    I got my stuffing🙂

  18. Oh Gawd!

    I had a friend of mine give me a look when I told her that I let my daughter lick the spoon while we were making chocolate chip cookies.

    I was like, “What?”

    She said, “You know, your daughter could get salmonella!”

    I replied, “She’s more likely to get hit by a meteor then get salmonella from licking raw cookie dough!”

    BTW, I LOVE your blog and am going to get your book for myself and my freaked out friend!

    Thank you for bringing back some common sense to our lives. I HATE all this anxiety-based parenting!!!

  19. “See, there it is about what you feed your kid.”

    Yup. Chances are, if generations of stone age humans, then neolithic humans ate it and survived, it’s good to eat, raw or not. Eggs (from all sorts of species) have been prized for eons, at least until the late 1950s, when nutrition science went haywire. If early humans didn’t eat it, well, we probably should consider carefully. They sure as heck didn’t eat Egg Beaters.

    Speaking of raw eggs, we went out for sushi/sashimi on Saturday for my husband’s birthday and sat at the sushi bar to watch the chef in action (also a better strategy for a dining with a 10 yo boy, who would rather eat and dash than sit and converse at a table).

    All evening I admired a lovely bowl of teeny tiny bright yellow fish roe in the glass case in front of me, so or my final order, I asked for something with lots of eggs, because I love eggs so much and I know how nourishing and special they are. A short time later I was presented with a tiny slab of sticky rice shaped into a tiny bowl, wrapped with nori, and filled with crunchy fish roe and the smooth rich raw yolk of a tiny quail egg. Mmmm, rich and creamy, soft and crunchy at the same time, and quite sweet from the sticky rice (then again, I can taste the sugar in romaine lettuce!). This concoction was perfect as a final “dessert” piece. Who needs cookies?

  20. I love it. I have a microbiology degree and an MD, and when other moms see me giving my kids the bowl, they almost die!

    Trying to explain disease incidents and infective doses to brick walls gets frustrating. I’ve essentially given up.

    But now we have you out there, fighting the good fight. Keep it up!

  21. IMO, raw cookie dough and cake batter are the best things about baking. I fought with my sister over licking the spoon when I was little and now my daughter fights with her mom over licking the spoon. It’s nice to pass these things down.

    I’ve started hording eggshells for Easter projects and have been blowing out most of the eggs that cross my kitchen counter and so far no ill effects.

    I must confess that when I cook food containing raw eggs that we share with friends and family (ice cream, certain types of cookies, etc.) I tend to use pasteurized whole eggs which some of our grocery stores carry.

    http://www.safeeggs.com/

  22. OK, I’m stuck at work with no speakers. Is there a transcript?

  23. Was I supposed to be worried about raw cookie dough? 😉

  24. […] Raw Cookie Dough: Death On a Spoon? At last, the video age is upon us. Click on this if you’re wondering if you can let your kids eat raw cookie […] […]

  25. You’ve been on a blogging roll! Way to go! Thanks for the research! I honestly haven’t eaten raw cookie dough in years! Some things I let slide but that was one I was afraid to test. I just may have to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies sometime soon!

  26. Wow, we had chocolate chip cookie dough for dessert tonight. One of our absolute favorite things. It may be more portable when it’s baked into actual cookies, but it isn’t nearly as good.

    My two-year-old ate more than her share. My almost-four-year-old didn’t get any — punishment for lying to us earlier in the day. (And was she ever mad!)

    Yes, I punish my children for lying.

  27. Oh I love this – thanks for speaking the TRUTH!

    (And I like Little Rumsfeld Boy too – destined to be a holiday classic!)

  28. Alyson, the more compelling reason to not stuff the bird, but to make dressing instead, is because stuffed birds take longer to cook and are more likely to be dry. Just FYI.

  29. There was a time when I was 16, when I would make a batch of cookie dough specifically to eat it. My only concession was to leave out the baking powder, it had no job if the dough wasn’t being baked. Eating a whole batch of cookie dough didn’t make me ill.

    I also have a Chocolate Mousse recipe that uses eggs which are mostly raw (they are added to a warm mix, so not cooked, but possibly warmed through) My future Mother-in-Law was horrified, but I’ve never had any problem with them.

  30. When I moved to Japan, I was shocked to discover that people here eat raw eggs all the time. As in, for my very first breakfast in Japan, I was treated to a bowl of rice, a piece of extremely salty cooked fish, a small bowl of pickled vegetables, and a bowl with a raw egg broken into it. (Yes, I ate (drank) the egg — and I ate the eggs of three other people at my table, because I was starving since it was dinnertime in my previous time zone. They were starving too, but they blanched at the mere thought of the slimy things.) At the ubiquitous Japanese fast food restaurant Yoshinoya, the typical lunch or dinner combo set includes a raw egg broken into a bowl. Another cheap eats place I frequent, The Meshiya, gives you the egg unbroken, with one bowl for your egg and another for the eggshell.

    Somehow, the Japanese have not all died in a plague of Salmonella. In fact, I had trouble explaining to my Japanese co-workers the American fear of raw eggs; they knew we don’t eat raw animal products, but they were surprised to find out that we were actually afraid of getting sick from the sorts of things they have every day for lunch.

    In addition, it’s normal not to refrigerate your eggs. They are often sold unrefrigerated.

  31. I should add to my previous reply — you can either drink the raw egg (few people do that) or pour it over your other food, typically into your piping-hot rice or stew so that it cooks just a little. It’s really very tasty.

  32. Modis Operundi in my house – The chocolate chip cookies get a nutritional boost with wheat germ, raw sugar, dark chocolate, flax seeds, nuts and oatmeal. I haven’t decided whether it’s justifying a tasty treat, finding a pleasant mechanism to add wheat germ and flaxseed to our diet or if it is because my family prefers the taste and texture of multigrain and wholegrain foods. And yes, the boys strip their shirts off and sit on the counter licking either the single kitchen aid beater or the rubber spatula. I have a video on youtube to prove it. Incidentally, the cookies taste wonderful.

    My hat goes off to you, Lenore. I hope that the free range movement puts a little sanity back in parenting. Could you please seek lit review in law reviews for your book so it could be easily entered into evidence in court?

    🙂

  33. I’m more worried about what they’ll give each other when they put the beater back in the batter for a refill than what they will get from the ingredients in whatever we are making. Well that and hoping enough batter makes it through to warrent warming up the oven to actually cook the treat.

  34. I let my 3 year old lick the bowl AND spoon last weekend while baking…. and all survived. imagine.

  35. I’ ve been keeping my kids out of the batter for years with scare tactics specifically so I could have it to myself and not hear them fighting over it.

    I’ve always wondered about cookie dough ice cream. Do they do something special to it to make the dough “safe”?

  36. I think what a lot of people forget too is that you can also get salmonella by handing reptiles like, oh, turtles and lizards that you would find in a pet store or even your backyard…and yet parents don’t keep their kids locked up in the house wearing bio suits and rubber gloves…

  37. I make and serve raw food our cats (ground chicken pieces – bones and all), raw yolks, raw liver, and when I can get them, raw chicken hearts). I’ve been doing this for about three years. I was warned off the idea by our vet, who said the cat’s acidic stomach and short GI system can take teh raw food and any bacteria (I hope so, nature doesn’t cook for wild cats), but she was worried about the raw food sickening our family, especially the kids, who sometimes have lax hygiene habits.

    Hasn’t happened. Obviously, I practice good hygiene when I grind and mix everything up, then clean up well afterwards (using very hot water, dish soap, and the dishwasher for the items that can go in there). The grinder parts are not DW safe, so they must be washed by hand. I’ll use bleach if I need to use the grinder for making something for the family, but otherwise, I don’t usually use disinfectants.

    But there is always a container of raw cat food in the fridge and every member of the family feeds the cat. The cat even licks my husband’s hand when she sits on his lap (I don’t go for that), probably right after eating her dinner, too.

    Our sterile, shelf-stable, and highly processed (adulterated) food supply is actually making us more susceptible to illness. Right from the start, infants systems are inoculated with beneficial bacteria from the mother’s birth canal and breasts (C-sectioned and formula- fed babies have a smaller colony of beneficial gut bacteria at 6 mos). But the gut needs a constant supply of beneficial organisms from food, because these bacteria are an important part of our gut immune system (and the bacteria outnumber our own cells 10 to 1, constituting several pounds of our body weight. Ironically, lots of people, including infants and children, regularly take acid-inhibiting medications, which further reduce our defenses (stomach acid barrier) to GI pathogens.

  38. Anna, I don’t get where the vet was coming from. Does he think that the chicken people eat comes from the store cooked? Unless you’re a vegetarian or someone who eats only frozen dinners, EVERYONE handles raw meat in their kitchen. Some people actually (gasp) buy their chickens whole and cut them up as normal practice; others even do this thing called “raising your own chickens and slaughtering them” (shudder, it’s a wonder they’re still above ground!) So what’s the big deal with feeding it to the cat? Did he just think that there would be “too much” of it around, causing a higher risk?

  39. Ha! Love it, especially the Grim Reaper. And I agree with several others here: My son is NOT allowed to lick the bowl. It’s mine! All mine! Bwahahaha!

    …just kidding. He gets the spoon.

    I always thought the egg thing was so silly. We are cleaner today than ever before. Most food prep places follow stringent standards and the our grocery stores have the freshest food around! I eat sushi all the time, though not raw egg by itself, because frankly the texture is a little nasty for me. (In fact, Lenore, I’d be very interested to know the circumstances behind those 6 dead: were the eggs spoiled and they disregarded the spoilage? Were they previously ill or elderly or in some other way health-compromised? Even if I hear that “people have died”, I still always wonder about the perspective. They never reveal circumstance when they try to scare people with statistics.)

    But come on, what’s better than 2 melted sticks of butter, 2 cups of granulated sugar, all mixed together with 2 raw eggs and a tsp of vanilla extract. Stuff’s like crack!

  40. SheWhoPicksUpToys,

    I think the vet (she’s also our neighbor and mom to my son’s best friends) was worried about us catching nasties from the cat, not the prep work. You know, the cats will harbor salmonella or other pathogen, the kids will handle the cats, not wash their hands, etc. As I mentioned before, one of our cats is a “licker”, and if it were that easy to pick up nasty bugs from her, it would have happened by now, I’m sure. I’m sure it *could* happen, under the right circumstances (like if one of us was immuno-compromised), but we are healthy, the cats are healthy (especially now with this fantastic cat food!), and so for us, it’s a non-issue.

    Now I’m even making cat food for another neighbor’s two cats, and she has a new baby. I’m sure she’ll figure out a way to keep the baby out of the cats’ food dishes.

  41. I has only been in the last 20 years that salmonella enteriditis has migrated to the inside of the egg, passed from the oviduct of the hen. Previously, Se was a pathogen of horses and rabbits and it made a species jump — which is not uncommon.

    Further, the FSIS estimates that 1 in 10,000 eggs can carry Se, NOT 1 in 30,000.

    Foodborne illness is miserable. And the wrong pathogen in the wrong person at the wrong time could be devastating. Why take the chance?

  42. My nephew died from a food borne illness. It was awful. He fought, but it was just too much for his little body to take.

    It could have been prevented. That’s the worst part.

    Now, I think of all the people who never thought that peanut products would cause so much misery. My heart goes out to them.

  43. I’ve had family die in car accidents, but we can’t all stay out of vehicles. I think the point is getting missed here – yes, we can avoid a lot of things – we can never leave our house, hence avoiding car wrecks, muggings, viruses from other people, and so forth; we can wrap our kids in bubble wrap to avoid bruises, scrapes, and scratches; we can stand on the front porch and watch for an airplane to hit our roof.

    I’m not lessening the pain from losing a loved one from anything – illness, accident, allergy. It happens.

    But the point is, life is all about LIVING. Not avoiding. Do you know you can get salmonilla from lettuce? Does that mean avoid lettuce? You can die just stepping out of your bed in the morning. The point is, LIVE.

    If you want to avoid cookie dough, fine. But we don’t, and we won’t, because the odds are greatly – astronomically, actually – in our favor that the only harm that will ever come from it in our lifetime and our children’s lifetimes is an inch on the waist. I can deal with that.

  44. I agree — no parent should have to worry about the food we feed our kids. But it’s a sad fact that people are sickened (and killed) by hamburgers (Jack in the Box), chicken, peanuts, milk, and yes, even eggs.

    Please visit http://www.safetables.org and see the faces and hear the stories of people who never thought it would happen to them. Then see if you think it’s still funny.

  45. Salmonella on lettuce. Wash it. E. coli in beef. Cook it. Salmonella in eggs. Buy pasteurized shell eggs.

    Yes, it’s largely preventable. It takes some effort.

  46. Lenore, you have an award waiting for you on my site http://breederbrain.blogspot.com/. Thank you for your refreshing and heartily needed view on parenting.

  47. People who are concerned about food-borne illness should definitely do whatever they think is right in preventing or avoiding it. Yes, it happens, it’s terrible, and it’s not far-fetched to want to avoid the risk entirely. Raw cookie dough (light-hearted comments here to the contrary ;-)) is not essential to life, or even very important to quality of life. So go without it and keep your kids from it if you’re worried about it.

    But none of that changes the risk statistics that Lenore pointed out. The fact remains, your chances of being struck by lightning are many times greater than your chances of becoming seriously ill from licking a mixing spoon. And your chances of dying in an auto accident are orders of magnitude greater, but I’ll bet no one here decides to avoid a family outing because they might get in an accident on the way. Each person should decide what level of risk is appropriate for their family, and act accordingly, but accurate information never killed anybody. It doesn’t save lives to have people walking around with misconceptions about how dangerous cookie dough is.

  48. cool… it’s a good point… let your kids to watch it.. i love cookin’…

  49. Mmmmm, cookie dough. My fondest memories of my mom are coming home from school around Christmas time to cookies baking and a big bowl, spoon and two mixer blades waiting to be licked clean. Of course, I had to fight my brother for the very last bit in the bowl.

    It’s a lot harder to manage with 4 kids, I tell you. There just isn’t enough cookie dough to go around and I always seem to end up with half the amount of cookies the recipe says it will make, lol.

    But seriously. I never paid much attention when they started saying you couldn’t eat cookie dough. Pfft. Generations of people have done it and lived to tell. Heck, when I was in college I used to make a batch and bake half and eat the rest of the dough over the next two days (yeah, I was real healthy back then). I’m still alive and never once got sick.

    Like someone else said…you can’t live your life afraid of “what might happen.” What a boring way to live.

  50. I agree–of course🙂 –and love the comment above about how some folks think raw cookie dough is dangerous but it’s ok to drink Sunny D everyday… And, Lenore, your video was terrific–wise and funny just like your blog!

  51. You have some facts wrong, and left out some others.
    Children under ten are more susceptible since their immune systems are not fully developed.

    Also, as one poster said salmonella inside of eggs is still a recent phenom.

    And here’s a pet peeve — “Well, I do it and I’m not dead.” What does that prove????? Except that you’re not that bright. Anecdotal “evidence” is MEANINGLESS.

  52. Foodborne illnesses are largely underreported. For every person who is diganosed (with a stool sample) there are many others who do not seek treatment. (I think the multiplier is around 40.)

    Also, let’s say someone with cancer (whose immune system is weak) contracts salmonellosis. The infection can/does spread (often causing ogran failure) and contribute to death. But the official cause of death is recorded as cancer. It happens frequently, thereby skewing the numbers.

  53. I love your message, as always. I love the humor as always. I really, really, really love raw cookie dough, and I always have.

    But…

    Just speaking for myself…

    I find it *so* much faster, easier, and more convenient to read your blog entries than to play a video blog. For what it’s worth!

  54. I won’t eat raw or runny eggs by themselves, just cuz I can’t stand the texture (yuck!), but heads will roll if anyone tries to take my raw cookie dough away.

  55. June_baby, that’s interesting information, but not that useful.

    If most foodborne illnesses aren’t reported, why is that? Is it because healthy people drop dead and nobody attempts to find out why? Or is it because people feel a little sick for a few days, and don’t think anything of it? My money’s on the latter.

    As far as people with compromised immune systems skewing the results, well, duh. If you have a compromised immune system you are more careful about illness than people who don’t. That’s not rocket science. The OP shouldn’t have to post “Go ahead and eat that cookie dough – unless, of course, you have a compromised immune system, or diabetes, or any other condition which makes it riskier for you than for the rest of us”. We’re not children, nor are we stupid.

  56. Uly, I think you missed June baby’s point.

    If you’re going to use stats as your proof, you need to understand them first. Sounds like a lot of incidents go unreported and the issue is bigger than it may sound.

    Critical thinking. Thinking. It’s a lost art. Thanks June baby.

  57. Uly, we don’t think you’re stupid; just average.

    The problem with the average is that their thought process stops when presented with “evidence” that backs up their opinion.

    As a pediatrician, I urge caution with raw and undercooked eggs. As for the adults, if you’re ok with the risk go right ahead. But, as the CDC and other public health officials advise, I would never take that chance with a child under the age of 10.

  58. […] I’m particularly loving Lenore’s recent post about eating raw cookie dough.  I’m all for caution, especially with very young kids (like, under 2 years old) with […]

  59. “Sounds like a lot of incidents go unreported and the issue is bigger than it may sound.”

    But I believe Uly’s point is that incidents that go unreported are probably not all that serious, or else they would show up somewhere. Something has a high risk of giving you a tummyache is not something to live in fear of. Something that has a high risk of killing your or making you ill enough to inflict serious damage on your body is something to worry about. The question to settle is which of those scenarios more closely represents the actual risk of salmonella from the occasional ingestion of raw eggs?

    I have a hard time believing that there is a 40 to 1 ratio of people who become seriously ill from salmonella not being reported. So if the unreported cases are not serious, the point stands — your (meaning a person with a normal immune system) chances of becoming seriously ill are not high.

    The consideration that it is a higher risk for children under 10 is good to keep in mind as well. That’s part of having all the information. Information is better than scare tactics.

  60. I let my kid lick the spoon. Life’s too short to live in fear, I say.

  61. She who picks up toys:
    Please define “serious” food poisoning. Do we have to wait until someone develops Reiters syndrome to categorize it as serious? Is diarrhea and dehydration not enough? Is it just diarrhea without blood in it?

    Cancer is a no-brainer. But not a lot of people know that having a cold makes them immune suppressed. Or that taking antibiotics or medication that decreases stomach acid leaves you more vulnerable to foodborne pathogens. Those a just a few examples.

    I work in the egg industry. Chickens are not clean animals — the free roaming ones eat their fair share of shit. I would no more eat undercooked eggs than I would undercooked chicken meat.

    And PhD is right — salmonella has only shown up inside eggs since the late 1980’s. Refrigeration (which only slows colony growth) wasn’t required until about that time too.

  62. By “serious” I’m assuming that if someone seeks medical attention for it, it would be reported. So “not serious” in the way I’m thinking is “not requiring medical attention.” Any of the things you mention above beyond simple diarrhea would result in medical attention being sought.

    I’m willing to admit I could be wrong on this, but I still really doubt that there are 40 times as many people becoming more than mildly ill with salmonella as are being reported, and it’s impossible to prove ANY statistic that relies on “we know it’s happening but there’s absolutely no way to demonstrate it.” And if it’s only a mild illness, it doesn’t justify the impression that most people have that cookie dough is, as Lenore says, “Death on a spoon.” That it might still be a risk wisely avoided is another matter, just as we all do commonsense things to avoid other ordinarily mild illnesses, but perspective is what’s needed here. Colds can and do develop into pneumonia as well, but while we take sensible precautions to avoid spreading and catching colds, nobody’s (yet) managed to convince the average American mother that “your kids will get pneumonia if someone sneezes on them” in the way so many of us have bought into “your kids will get deadly salmonella if you let them lick the spoon.” If my analogy between the risk of pneumonia and the risk of dangerous salmonella is erroneous, I’m more than willing to hear it based on statistics. But simply pointing out what “can” happen without realistically assessing the degree of 1) risk of contraction and 2) virulence of the illness doesn’t really inform people about how dangerous something is.

    And I totally “get” that salmonella in eggs is a new development. That’s the argument I’ve always used with my husband when he takes the old “it never hurt me when I was a kid” line. I’m probably not going to disabuse my kids of the notion that they shouldn’t eat raw eggs, now that it’s as deeply embedded in their thinking as its become. But my concern here is that people (like Lenore) who point out the actual statistics of harm shouldn’t be shouted down by worst-case scenario assumptions without actual risk assessment.

  63. Johanna, if you’re going to be snarky, at least try to be coherent.

    If the vast majority of incidents go unreported, please explain why you or I or anybody should even *care*. I refuse to spend my life worrying about the low risk (one in ten thousand is *still* pretty low!) of getting a disease that I probably won’t even go to the doctor (much less the hospital!) over.

    Sharon, I’d say that “serious” food poisoning is any food poisoning that’s serious enough for me to get off my butt and call my doctor about. If I’m not even sick enough to get myself checked out and entered as a food poisoning statistic, it can’t be that bad. Like, seriously.

    Now, you can take that information and your experience with chickens, and you can avoid raw eggs for the rest of your life. And heck, if I do get salmonella and die, I’ll be sure to have my family contact you so you can laugh at my grave. I’ll have “She told me so” put on it. Promise🙂 That’s your right. (Likewise, I don’t go out in thunderstorms. 700 people a year in the US get struck by lightning, and I’m not going to be one of them.)

    But you don’t need to be snippy at the rest of us who, using our best personal judgment, have decided that the odds of serious illness are low enough that it’s worth the gamble. We’re not shoving raw eggs down your throat, after all.

  64. Right, the late 1980s, and the rise of super-pathogens. That pinpoints the turning point. That’s when the “fear seeds” were planted.

    Our food production system is irrevocably broken and it’s making us sick in numerous ways, whether acutely with food poisoning, or slowly with diets not suited to our physiology, resulting in worry and disease. Nothing from industrial food systems is safe anymore – every week there seems to be a new recall of some industrial food whether it’s animal or plant, for humans or our pets (and now the outbreaks are national and global instead of localized and easy to track). What’s the next outbreak doing to hit? Some think more regulations, more system “patches” are the answer. No, it’s crumbling from within, patches and more regulations won’t help because they can’t keep up with the decay. You can’t regulate away bad priorities.

    Factory farming, deluging farm animals with crappy food made from waste products unsuitable to their dietary requirements; stressful unnatural conditions; growth hormones, antibiotics (more antibiotics are fed to animals each year than humans), synthetic fertilizers and pest/weed controls, the list goes on. The model of cheap, abundant, convenient food is broken and now we are increasingly afraid of the food, because we have no idea what lurks inside it anymore. And the trade-off for all this cheap, abundant, convenient food is increased risk of acute and chronic illness and fear of food, thus loss of quality of life.

    We don’t have to eat that stuff. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, indeed. We need to eat real food, produced in a system that mimics nature rather than fights it. Polyculture instead of monoculture, local food production for basic foods instead of centralized, globally-distributed processed edible food-like substances. We need a paradigm shift. It starts with individuals deciding they want to feed their families differently. They want to nourish their families.

    Ask around, check www dot localharvest dot org for www dot eatwild dot com or local food producers who don’t use the factory farm model (your local farm bureau might be able to help, too. It *is* do-able with a few changes in habits and most of all, a rearrangement in priorities. And one doesn’t have to be a hippy😉.

    It’s not that hard in many places in the country (at least some of the year, if not all year) to source eggs raised by one individual or a local 4-H kid; subscribe to a CSA produce program; buy meat in bulk from a pasture-based farm or ranch in your region; or when you go to the county or state fair, on auction day, there are gobs of kids who need to sell their animals. Meat processors are at the fair on auction day to take your order to transport, process, wrap and freeze any animal you buy. Go in with your friends on a bulk buy if you are short on freezer space.

    You can take it one step further and join the urban chicken movement and get a few chickens – they do well in urban and suburban gardens and when raised from chicks, can be great pets for your kids.

    Grow a garden – the Square Foot Garden method is great for small places and less effort or use containers for at least some salad greens. Kids love growing fruits and veggies and they’ll eat more of them if they raise them themselves. www dot squarefootgarden dot com . Fruit trees and bushes require only a little care and are great for seasonal harvests.

    Read Joel Salatin’s books to understand why the industrial food production system is a broken system and why sourcing from small, independent food producers in your region will better work for you and your community (keep the dollars and jobs local).

    My point is that for many average people (and you don’t have to be rich) it *is* possible to avoid much of the supermarket food (industrially produced food that is highest in risk of causing illness). You may even save time and money (you certainly won’t be tempted by displays of garish green iced cupcakes in the supermarket entry!, nor will you have to waste time clipping coupons for the processed junk (why do they have to resort to adverts and bribery to gain sales anyway?).

    When you look your food producers in the eye, they aren’t going to sell you unwholesome food that they wouldn’t hesitate to eat themselves or serve their families. Food with a face, that’s what I aim for. And when you *really* know where your food comes from, there is less food to be afraid of, fewer codes or bulletins to check for recalls, fewer labels to scrutinize, and more time to enjoy a healthy sane life with less to worry about. More batter to lick.

    Ok, off my soapbox now. I won’t get started on the wheat and sugar being the real problem…

  65. Even if folks go to the doctor because they have diarrhea, most still don’t get a fecal culture done. That’s the only way to identify the pathogen that caused your illness.

    Are you aware of how many idiots call my office and say they have “the stomach flu”?

    The flu, influenza, is a respiratory infection. It does not affect one’s stomach or intestines. Ever.

    Also, I have some patients who wouldn’t come to me if they were shitting blood. Others call if they have a sniffle.

    So, the point is, to define “serious” is pointless. Foodborne illness is underreported. Period.

  66. I too use the pasteurized shell eggs and just don’t worry about it.

  67. You’re right. A serious illness is very different from one person to another. My mother in law thinks every little thing is serious!

  68. “So, the point is, to define “serious” is pointless. Foodborne illness is underreported. Period.”

    No doubt. (Though I wouldn’t go to your office if I were *dying* if I knew you were inclined to call me an idiot for not using your preferred terminology. You get many patients with that sort of attitude? Man, I feel like calling every burp and hiccup the stomach flu JUST to annoy you, and I don’t even KNOW you!)

    However, again, the question is – how important is this risk of salmonella?

    And I’m allowed to assess that for myself. The evidence doesn’t show that it’s likely to kill me, nor that it’s overly likely to make *me* feel seriously ill (a personal choice, I know, but I will make it), and so I think it’s fair to take the chance of licking the spoon.

    Heck, we can even do a comparison of stats. What are the odds of dying from salmonella contracted when eating raw cookie dough, compared to dying in a car driven by your loving mother? Compared to the odds of being struck by lightning? Compared to the odds of being stung to death by bees, eaten by sharks, or bored out of our gourds?

    Life is a series of risk assessments. No way around it. If you think that we’re a bunch of idiots for assessing the risks differently from the way do, that’s your business, but you’re not likely to convince anybody by being a jerk about it.

  69. […] from about 4 sites prior I ended up on the Free Range Kids lady’s website which featured this video about whether or not kids can still eat cookie dough the way we did when we were kids. MY question, […]

  70. More reasons that salmonella enteritidis doesn’t seem like the problem that it really is — a more comprehensive program to deal with it.

    This was a few years back, but in my thesis on Se, these were the estimations by the CDC:
    131,121 illnesses; 1,521 hospitalizations; 52 deaths

    The FDA and USDA have been working together and did a comprehensive microbial risk assessment. That was step one.

    Step two was labeling shell eggs with safe handling instructions.

    Third at retail is refirgeration requirement. If you keep the eggs cool, you won’t kill existing growth, but you can stop further growth.

    In the foodservice arena, you have things like HAACP plans and the FDA’s 2005 Model Food Code, which every state has yet to adopt. The food code requires the use of pasteurized liquid or shell eggs. In my opinion, pasteurization has done the most to limit the number of incidences of Se. There are also protocols in place to halt cross-contamination from shell eggs.

    There is a ways to go. The FDA still rates eggs as the second leading cause of foodborne illness in this country.

    Not be alarmist, but we also contiue to look at viruses and subunit particles that continue to evolve and leap species. IMHO, when dealing with food products from animals, it is best to err on the side of caution.

    The government is not going to keep you healthy. Peanut products were not on the radar screen. Eggs are, so forewarned is forearmed.

  71. Raw cookie dough is hands-down my FAVORITE FOOD. And I don’t care for the store-bought stuff; if it doesn’t contain raw eggs, it just isn’t the same. When I make cookies (only about once a month because it always makes me overindulge) I don’t just lick the spoon; I eat 3-4 cookies worth of the dough. I’ve done this my whole life. Why wouldn’t I let my kids do something I’ve done a million times? It’s not like I have a death wish!

  72. “Why wouldn’t I let my kids do something I’ve done a million times?”

    If I followed that kind of logic, I would be in prison for good reason. They might be too.

  73. Ellen, I’m dying to know what, exactly, you’ve done a million times that would land your children in jail. And how that relates to cookie dough.

  74. I don’t eat raw cookie dough, cake or brownie batter. It’s not because of Salmonella, but because I’m allergic to eggs. Eating raw eggs makes me nauseous, so do hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Is that going to stop me from letting my daughter eat it? No. As of now, she’d rather eat the final product.

    Frankly, I’m more worried about her getting into the jar of peanut butter than her eating a bit of batter.

  75. I loved eating raw cookie dough as a child and I still do, and I can’t imagine denying my daughters the decadent pleasure of this. Thanks for your sane, sage, solid stance on all this. I couldn’t agree more.

  76. Has anyone heard about the egg recall in Northern California? Looks like it’s organic eggs from Safeway and Costco. The info was released late Friday.

  77. Salmonella in eggs? Well, you can’t more organic than that!

  78. Interesting. Eggs are not routinely tested for pathogens (if you find it, you have to report it), so I wonder what spurred this “internal investigation” at the farm…

  79. Mmmmm…big bowl of cookie dough anyone?

  80. Simple……don’t be a hypocritical parent. If you did it, don’t deny them the pleasure. If you are hyper scared about commercial eggs, be smart and buy local farm fresh eggs. If you live in an area where they aren’t available (which they are if you search long & hard) then don’t make cookies.

  81. Eggs that are laid close to my home are safe from bacteria?

    And when should I buy my child his first bong? I did it, so I don’t want to deny him the pleasure.

  82. I always “try” the cookie dough, cake dough etc whenever I bake, it’s too delicious not to. Actually I also have a teeny bit of raw meat when making meatballs. I’ve been doing this my whole life and it has never made me sick or given me worms or anything.

  83. Louis, that’s an interesting argument given that marijuana is safer than many legal drugs.

  84. You guys were allowed to lick the spoon?! I never was.

    A few things about salmonella:

    * factory-farmed chickens (that is, the ones you can afford) are much more likely to have salmonella, and pass it to each other, than birds raised the old-fashioned way. It matters where your food comes from.

    * salmonella (and most food-poisoning bugs) are not a big deal for healthy adults, but ARE a big deal to the elderly, young children, and anybody whose immune system is not working at full capacity.

    Those 94% who didn’t go to the doctor were mostly healthy adults and older children. The 6% who did were probably like my elderly aunt – she went to the hospital after eating a raw-egg salad dressing, while other people at the same restaurant didn’t have a problem. Even if you don’t die from it, food poisoning is no fun.

    I don’t eat raw eggs myself, but I know the risks are small. Now that I’m pregnant (and more susceptible to getting sick from all causes) I’m extra careful about cleaning up after meat in the kitchen. When we have a baby in the house, it will be the same way (raw dough only for dad – I never developed a taste for the stuff) and when the kid gets older we’ll go back to our “oops, is that blood on the counter from last week?” days. Well, hopefully not that bad.🙂

  85. I should clarify: just because a bird is raised free-range by local organic hippies, doesn’t mean it’s free of salmonella – or vice versa. But your odds are better in the one group than the other.

    If I ever get my backyard flock of chickens, I might well test them for salmonella, eat the ones that have it, and never worry about the issue again!😀

  86. Here in the UK we have something called a Lion Mark that is stamped on nearly all the eggs you can buy in the supermarket. It means the eggs came from chickens vaccinated against Salmonella. It’s also not so common for us to buy the ready made cookie dough but rather just make them from scratch so I don’t know anyone here who doesn’t let their kid lick the bowl!

    http://www.britegg.co.uk/lionquality05/startlionquality.html

  87. […] all that aside, I do enjoy raw cookie dough, even though that term is redundant. Cookie dough, as any dough, is raw. If it were cooked cookie […]

  88. I eat raw cookie dough on a weekly basis religiously. For that reason, I switched to using Ener-G brand “Egg Replacer” (which is basically potato starch and tapioca flour), just in case. It also reduces the fat and cholesterol of the cookie considerably.

  89. LOL. My grandma, who used to let us and her kids eat cookie dough ALL THE TIME recently lectured my cousin and I about letting our kids eat cookie dough. Just to tease her a little bit we sat and ate spoonfuls of the stuff while she clucked.

    My husband will make himself a batch of cookie dough and eat the whole thing over the course of a day or two. Of course this is a man who thought the 10 second rule was the 10 minute rule when I met him.🙂

    JAS you have my deepest sympathies. Being allergic to eggs and hot krispy kremes sounds like a serious bummer to me.

  90. I get it that “anecdotal” evidence is “meaningless.” I know that, logically, the experiences of a handful of people doesn’t hold up to the test of time.

    But, here’s the thing. Statistics are cold and impersonal. They don’t mean much to me. It’s hard to relate “one in 35,000 children will be seriously harmed by a crayon” to real life.

    We learn and grow through trial and error. Knowing that something has worked or successful for MOST of your life and for those around you, shows you that something is PROBABLY safe.

    Are you going to say, “well, everyone I KNOW has been ok using crayons, so it SHOULD be fine for me, too. But, geez. There is that statistic, so I guess I’d better not.”

    Or, conversely, “I actually know someone harmed by a crayon, so, yeah, I won’t have anything to with them. Even if the risk is small.”

    Experience brings emotions into play. Statistics do not. We are ruled (generally speaking) by our emotions, NOT statistics.

    I think those who parent by statistics are much more likely to be fearful parents than those who parent by experience.

  91. I think those who parent by statistics are much more likely to be fearful parents than those who parent by experience.

    Profoundly disagree. Those who parent by “experience” seem to think – often – that seeing a video of a girl kidnapped on TV three states away means their kids are at risk of being snatched… and nothing you can say will convince them otherwise.

    Facts are the antidote to fear.

  92. Good day an interesting site based on Buscuit dough things to think about. If you are sreaching for work or jobs in the UK please have a look at http://www.coventry-jobs.com and find your city of choice.

  93. I know some one who died from doing just this so I really don’t know…

  94. I am completely opposed to feeding kids raw cookie dough.

    Because I refuse to share. The raw cookie dough is MINE. You want your own, make it yourselves…🙂

  95. Give them the cookie dough BEFORE you add the eggs.

  96. This has delighted me, im so happy i wont die from the prior dough binge I had. I LOVE CCOOOKIE DOUGH…..

  97. Thank-you for bringing us back down-to-earth! I want to enjoy parenthood and not be anxious all the time (something that seems impossible these days). I’m going out and getting your book!

  98. Thank you for this video! I had my friends over And we planned to make cookie dough and eat some. A few of my friends though, wouldn’t eat it because of the risk of dying. But you are right, I would rather die eating cookie dough than anything else.

  99. When it comes to acidic stomach, the cheapest way to relieve it is to take some baking soda or milk of magnesia or magnesium hydroxide. :”,`.

    Many thanks http://www.healthmedicinelab.com“>

  100. GAWWWW! I JUST NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH COOKIE YOU HAVE TO EAT TO BE HOSPITALIZED?!?!?!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: