The only thing better than eating holiday cookies is eating the raw dough beforehand. It's a time-honoured tradition: before you pop those bad boys in the oven, you have a spoonful (or two) of the raw cookie dough and lick the bowl clean when it's done. Raw cookie dough is its own form of deliciousness that is like a pretreat before the actual treats are baked. Sure, it's generally ill-advised to consume raw eggs and flour, but a couple licks here and there can't hurt, right?
Not exactly. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention posted a warning on its website that eating any amount of raw cookie dough or raw cake batter can lead to E. coli infections and salmonella poisoning. In a post on its website, the CDC noted that raw flour hasn't been treated to kill germs like E. coli, which can contaminate the grain. In 2016, an E. coli outbreak linked to raw flour made 63 people sick. However, when flour is cooked, the bacteria are killed. In addition to raw flour, raw eggs are also used in cookie dough or cake batter, which can contain salmonella — however, cooked eggs are safe.
Since it's not just raw eggs that can make people sick but also raw flour, the dough for vegan cookies is just as risky as nonvegan cookie dough. The CDC recommends not tasting or eating any raw cookie dough or batter — not just for cookies and cakes, but also pancakes, pizza dough, etc. Instead, follow the recipe directions for cooking and baking at the proper temperature, and eat the treats then.
Does this mean you have to swear off all cookie dough entirely? Not quite. Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains cookie dough that has been treated to kill bacteria. Same goes for many commercial cookie dough shops, such as Dō in New York City and The Cookie Dough Caf, both of which are made with safe ingredients that don't contain the harmful bacteria.
If you can't bake your holiday cookies without licking the spatula, just be mindful of the risk. It's probably best not to let your kids eat the raw dough and batter — symptoms of E. coli infections include stomach cramps and diarrhea, and salmonella poisoning is marked by diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.