Why would plant-based cookie dough packaging say “Do not consume raw dough”


I just bought some Kroger Simple Truth Plant-Based Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

I always prefer to eat raw dough rather than bake the cookies.

But this packaging says:


Why not?

As a kid, I'd always heard a recommendation not to eat raw cookie dough that had eggs in it (and even then, I'm not sure what the reasoning is or what the risks are, but I suppose probably something related to salmonella).

But when the ingredients are plant-based (no eggs, no dairy, no animal products of any kind), what are the possible unwanted effects from eating raw dough?

Best Answer

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find the answer, but I eventually found articles by the FDA and CDC.

Consumers should be aware that there are additional risks associated with the consumption of raw dough, such as particularly harmful strains of E. coli in a product like flour.

Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria[...] So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.

Common “kill steps” applied during food preparation and/or processing (so-called because they kill bacteria that cause infections) include boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving, and frying. But with raw dough, no kill step has been used. [...] Common symptoms for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps, although most people recover within a week. But some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

That's pretty gross.

But then this number of people reportedly infected is so small that I'm surprised at the prevalence of the warnings (such as on packaging):

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 you have any flour or baking mixes that have been recalled in recent years.