The High Season of Cookie Dough Defiance

By Shelley Feist, Executive Director, Partnership for Food Safety Education

I have several friends who devote an entire December weekend to baking holiday cookies to give as gifts. (Lucky me, I am often a recipient). It is only this season that it occurs to me I should be checking in with them to see if they are “cookie dough defiant”.

I borrow the phrase “cookie dough defiant” from Sharon Davis of the Home Baking Association who presented on PFSE’s recent webinar about the safety of raw flour and shell eggs and home baking.

Sharon has put a phrase to something we see a lot — people who just do not want to accept that eating raw cookie dough can make themselves or their kids sick, and then making a defiant stand to continue to sample dough and batter despite the risk.

In reaction to a 2018 PFSE Facebook post, Susan said,” But the kids love it!” and “I’m not sure we will stop, but thanks for the warning.”

Cookie dough defiance has been promoted by celebrities, too. Ellen DeGeneres (@theellenshow) posted to Instagram, “Has anyone ever really gotten Salmonella from eating raw cookie dough or are they just trying to stop me from living my life?” with a cameo photo of Kermit the Frog.

Yes, Ellen. Someone has gotten Salmonellosis from eating raw cookie dough.

And, as our webinar highlights, E. coli: O157:H7 is a potentially even more dangerous pathogen that has been linked to raw flour.

We asked a live poll question on our webinar – and with more than 100 health and food safety educators responding, we found that even among knowledgeable health and food safety educators, 43% admitted to their cookie dough defiance.

We’ll be in touch again on this topic. For now, in this holiday season, consider how we can all model behavior — especially for kids — that a baked cookie is worth the wait and the season so much sweeter when we are healthy.

Related consumer messages:

  • Do not eat or play with any raw cookie dough or any other raw dough or batter product made with flour that is intended to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions on baking mixes and other flour-containing products for proper cooking temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products containing flour.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that might be present from spreading.

Check out the recorded webinar here. CEUs are available for the recorded webinar.

Summary: Outbreaks inked to raw flour (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

Other helpful links:

Shelley Feist is the Executive Director with the Partnership for Food Safety Education. She can be reached at (202) 220-0651 or sfeist@fightbac.org.