Say No to Raw Dough!

Family making dinner

There are many special occasions through the year that are perfect for spending time with loved ones while preparing delicious baked foods in the kitchen. Follow these safety tips to help you and your loved ones stay healthy when handling raw dough.

When you prepare homemade dough for cookies, cakes, and bread, you may be tempted to taste a bite before it is fully baked. But steer clear of this temptation—eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be baked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick. Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough used for crafts or play clay, too.

Raw Dough Can Contain Bacteria That Cause Disease

Flour doesn’t look like a raw food, but typically it is. This means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs like Escherichia coli (E. coli). Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or at other steps during flour production. Processing steps like grinding grain and bleaching flour do not kill germs like E. coli.

Bacteria are killed only when food made with flour is cooked. This is why you should never taste or eat raw dough or batter—whether made from recalled flour or any other flour.

In recent years (2016 and 2019), two outbreaks of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made more than 80 people sick. Flour and baking mixes that contain flour have long shelf lives, so it’s a good idea to check your pantry to see if any flour products there have been recalled in recent years. If you have any recalled flour products in your home, throw them away.

In addition, raw eggs used to make raw dough or batter can contain a germ called Salmonella that can make you sick if the eggs are eaten raw or lightly cooked. Eggs are safe to eat when cooked and handled properly.

Eating uncooked flour or raw eggs can make you sick. Do not taste or eat raw dough!


Eating uncooked flour or raw eggs can make you sick. Don’t taste or eat raw dough!

Follow safe food handling practices when you are baking and cooking with flour and other raw ingredients:

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking or baking at the proper temperatureexternal icon and for the specified time.
  • Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
  • Do not use raw homemade cookie dough in ice cream.
    • Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separateexternal icon from ready-to-eat foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Follow label directions to refrigerateexternal icon products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
  • Clean upexternal icon thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough:
    • Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces they have touched.
    • Wash bowls, utensils, countertops, and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.

Pay Close Attention to Any Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the germ you swallowed. The symptoms of E. coli infections vary among people but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.

People usually get sick 3 to 4 days after swallowing the germ. Most people recover within a week. However, some people develop a serious type of illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can result in kidney failure, stroke, and even death.

The symptoms of Salmonella infections typically appear 6 hours to 4 days after eating a contaminated food, though this period is sometimes longer. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. In most cases, illness lasts 4 to 7 days and people recover without antibiotics. Illness from Salmonella bacteria can be serious and is more dangerous for older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems.

Page last reviewed: September 12, 2019
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