It is a treat that many children enjoy while baking with their parents.
But licking the mixing bowl may not be safe after all, according to food safety regulators.
That’s not because of the raw eggs in the mixture – but the raw flour.
The warning comes after an E.coli outbreak was linked to a batch of flour in the US, leading to 10million pounds of it being recalled.
The decision by the Food Standards Agency comes after dozens were struck down by e. coli that was traced it back to a flour mill in Kansas City, Missouri.
Now the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has echoed the US government’s warning over raw flour, citing outbreaks of food poisoning caused by salmonella and e.coli in other countries as a reason to avoid it.
The new guidance is likely to come as a fresh blow to bakers just months after the FSA finally lifted a health warning on raw eggs that was in place for almost 40 years.
‘Whether it is safe to eat raw cookie dough would depend on the ingredients,’ a spokesman at the FSA said.
‘However, we would advise that people should not eat raw cookie dough unless manufacturers’ instructions say that it is safe to do so, because dough is generally not intended to be eaten in that state and some ingredients may not be safe to eat without cooking. It is always advisable to follow manufacturers’ instructions when using food ingredients.’
We have been advised to avoid eating raw mixture because of the risk of salmonella poisoning
The decision comes after dozens were struck down by a strain of e. coli O121 in the US last year. Tests later traced it back to a mill in Kansas City, Missouri.
The bacteria is usually associated with undercooked or raw meat, raw vegetables, and unpasteurised milk. But researchers have since found raw flour can also be a vehicle for pathogens.
In most cases, e.coli causes minor symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. However, it can also cause an infection that leads to an incurable form of kidney failure, which is more likely to affect children and older people.
By cooking the dough, the bacteria responsible for the infections and illness is killed.
In the past, we have been advised to avoid eating raw mixture because of the risk of salmonella poisoning. Soft boiled eggs have come with a health warning ever since 1988, when the then health minister Edwina Currie warned they could carry the bug.
The resulting scare led millions to turn away from eggs in a devastating blow to sales and British farmers. But efforts from farmers to eradicate salmonella, including vaccinating hens against it, have now effectively eliminated the risk.
The FSA said there was no evidence to suggest there are any problems with UK flour – but cases elsewhere led them to advise caution.
The agency said: ‘We do not advise eating uncooked flour or products containing uncooked flour because there is potential for it to be contaminated. Adequate cooking will ensure any harmful bacteria are killed.’