Picture this: You're 8 years old, baking chocolate chip cookies. Once they're in the oven, you get to lick the bowl clean of any remaining raw dough. Delicious, right? Well, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added a few details to that rosy picture, namely the risk of abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Following an outbreak of E. coli infections due to contaminated flour, the agency issued an advisory to discourage people from eating raw cookie dough altogether. In the advisory, Leslie Smoot, PhD, explained that flour "typically is not treated to kill bacteria" and there is a risk of contamination by animal waste during cultivation. As an example of the risk posed by raw dough, the FDA advisory points to a recent General Mills recall issued back in May of 10 million pounds of flour sold under the Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens, and Gold Medal Wondra brand names because of the potential for E. Coli contamination. A team of investigators from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that some of the people who got sick from the recalled flour had eaten raw dough that contained it.
If you've recently purchased flour from one of these brands, the FDA recommends you throw it away — and definitely don't eat raw dough you've made with it. (If you think you have an E. coli infection, your symptoms should abate after a week, but if you notice blood in your diarrhea or it gets worse, be sure to contact your doctor.)
Luckily, cooking will kill off any E. coli bacteria in cookie dough and flour and remove the risk of illness. So, you can at least enjoy your fully baked cookies without fear of repercussions. And if you're really jonesing for cookie-dough anything, the FDA advisory says that storebought cookie-dough ice cream creations are still fair game.