University of Iowa Health Science Relations and
Phyllis Stumbo, PhD
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Spending a few minutes making chocolate chip cookie dough and
eating the whole bowlful may not be your idea of a wild time. But it
can be more dangerous than you think, says Phyllis Stumbo, research
nutritionist at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. "Raw
cookie dough contains raw eggs, a potential carrier of salmonella
bacteria," she explains.
"Salmonella can be in all animal products, but one of the biggest
problems is raw eggs. The bacteria lives on and around the animals,
right where the eggs are." The egg itself is not the problem, Stumbo
says. "Eggs inside the shell are extremely sterile. It's when you
crack the egg that bacteria on the shell can get inside."
She doesn't recommend washing the eggs before putting them in the
refrigerator. "Washing an egg wipes off part of the protective
coating so bacteria can get inside more easily. If you want to wash
the eggs, do so right before you use them."
Keeping your hands clean is the best way to protect against
salmonella poisoning. Be aware, too, of contaminating your hands
again. "If you wash your hands and then cut up chicken; for example,
you should wash your hands before handling the salad fixings. And
clean the cutting board with warm, soapy water, rinsing well after
washing, before using it to cut the vegetables."
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, severe
abdominal pain, chills, fever and nausea. Symptoms usually appear
within eight to 72 hours after you have eaten the food, she says.
"This can make it difficult to pinpoint the food containing the
salmonella bacteria, because in all likelihood, you've eaten the
evidence," Stumbo says.
Salmonella can be life-threatening for the frail elderly and
infants. For most healthy people, Stumbo says, salmonella is not
deadly. "We've all eaten bacteria, and a little bit isn't going to
hurt you. But I'd definitely advise you not to eat a bowl of cookie
dough. And you probably shouldn't give your child the cake batter
bowl and beaters to lick," she says.
If you experience salmonella poisoning symptoms, you'll most
likely recover, Stumbo says. "But if you become dehydrated, see your
For more information about salmonella poisoning, talk to your