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How Big is Your Salmonella Risk Really?

by Kate Ferguson on May 10, 2016
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Growing up we learned not to eat raw cookie dough because of the risk of getting salmonella from the eggs, but we did it anyway and moved of us lived to tell the tale. So much so, that it might seem like the salmonella risk isn’t so much of a risk at all. But is it?

The truth is that any foods contaminated with salmonella or e.coli have the potential to make you sick, and of course not cooking them makes the risk a whole lot higher.

The problem with ingesting those pathogens is of course that they make you sick. The symptoms can range from upset stomach and vomiting to kidney failure and even death. Not great either way. Sometimes when people get infected by salmonella they can even develop a type of reactive arthritis that basically inflames the knees, ankles, or feet. It’s rare, but possible.

The risks are usually the greatest for people with compromised immune systems, or people who are particularly old or young, but anyone can be effected.

Some people believe that rinsing the outside of an egg can cut down on the salmonella risk, but this is not necessarily a strong enough tactic. Rinsing the egg might get rid of some of the stuff that is on the outside, but it is still possible for it to be inside of the egg.

Not to mention that many eggs are coated with an oil, and if the oil is removed from the shell it could make it more likely that bacteria could get into the egg.

However if you are buying cookie dough from the grocery store it is going to be pasteurized before you buy it, which means that the egg in it is not likely to have salmonella. On the other hand, sometimes nuts and chocolate are linked with salmonella outbreaks, and e. coli can contaminate flour. So when it comes to cookie dough, cooking it first is usually going to be a better idea even though it’s one of the tastiest treats to eat raw.

If you really feel the need to eat some, you might be best off making some for yourself that doesn’t use the addition of eggs at all. There are plenty of recipes for this out there, which will not only give you the opportunity to much on raw cookie dough with wild abandon, but give you the option of adding it to shakes or desserts. It’s not necessarily going to be good for you, (since most cookie dough is full of sugar, butter, and empty carbs), but it is going to be less likely to make you sick.

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