Pregnancy is a magical time in a woman’s life with many changes happening in the body. While it can be a beautiful time, it is normal to be anxious about keeping you and your baby safe. You are not alone if you are concerned about what you are putting into you and your baby’s bodies.
If you are making a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies, it can be tempting to clean off the mixing spoon and taste the raw batter. Before pregnancy, you may have questioned whether eating raw cookie dough is even harmful after remembering times when you snuck a spoonful while baking as a little girl. Although the general population is advised against eating raw cookie dough, it is especially important for pregnant women to avoid doing so.
So is chocolate chip cookie dough okay to eat during pregnancy? The short answer is, it depends.
Is it safe to eat cookie dough while pregnant?
Most people are familiar with avoiding cookie dough due to its raw egg content, but it should also be avoided due to the fact that it is prepared with uncooked flour. Certain foods like cookie dough, cake batter, or brownie batter, can contain raw eggs and flour, which can carry risks during pregnancy.
Avoid raw eggs while pregnant
Eggs bought from a grocery store are heat-sterilized to remove bacteria, but bacteria can still remain on the outer shell. When you crack an egg to mix in your cookie dough, bacteria from the shell can make its way into the dough. Consuming raw eggs puts you more at risk for foodborne illnesses like salmonella, which can be passed along to your baby.
How to handle flour while pregnant
Compared to foods like undercooked meats, sushi, and molded cheeses, raw flour may not make it on the top of your list of foods to avoid as a pregnant woman, but eating raw flour is not recommended. It may not seem like it, but most flour is actually raw. This means it has not been treated to kill off germs that cause food poisoning, such as E. coli. Grinding or bleaching flour does not kill off harmful germs it may have obtained while still in the field.
In 2021, there was an E. coli outbreak linked to the flour found in cake mix. Think of it in the same way you see raw meat during pregnancy. Ensure it is thoroughly cooked or heated before eating and wash your hands well after using these ingredients.
Some food bloggers have touted the idea of heat treating flour by microwaving it or baking it on a cookie sheet before using it. Per researchers at Michigan State University, there are no guarantees that flour is safe to consume after these untested at-home heat treatments.
Are There Safe Cookie Dough Options?
Most commercially bought cookie doughs found in major grocery stores contain raw eggs or flour, so they, along with homemade cookie dough, should be avoided. There are some companies that carry edible cookie dough that is safe to consume without baking it in the oven. These commercial brands use professionally heat-treated flours and pasteurized eggs in their recipe. Pasteurization means that foods are treated with mild heat, which kills off dangerous bacteria. Some brands avoid using these all together with eggless recipes. As long as it uses these types of safe ingredients, avoids raw eggs and flour, and states that it is safe to consume raw on the packaging, this edible cookie dough is a safe option to consume while pregnant.
How Will I Know If Cookie Dough is Safe to Consume Raw?
If raw cookie dough is okay to eat, it will explicitly state that you can eat it without it being baked on the packaging. It is perfectly fine to eat raw when they use pasteurized eggs, professionally heat-treated flour, or avoid these ingredients altogether.
Be sure to read the label before eating cookie dough that is raw, as some brands carry both edible cookie dough and cookie doughs that are not safe to eat prior to baking.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that is Safe to Eat Before Baking:
Below are examples of cookie doughs that are edible in the raw state:
- Nestle Toll House Edible Cookie Dough
- Doughp Raw cookie dough
- Toto Foods Cookie Dough
- The Cookie Dough Company Raw Cookie Dough Cups
- Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cookie Dough
What about Cookie Dough Ice-Cream?
As cliché as it may be, ice cream is a very common pregnancy craving. If you’re in your last trimester on a hot, summer day, cookie dough ice cream probably sounds like a delicious way to cool down. Generally speaking, eating ice cream from a grocery store should be safe to do while pregnant. Cookie dough ice cream is made with cookie dough that is pasteurized, so in this case, it is safe to eat it in ice cream if you are pregnant.
Take caution when eating cookie dough ice-cream out at a restaurant or if it is homemade. In these cases, it is best to avoid in case the cookie dough includes the raw ingredients listed above. Also, avoid soft-serve Cookie Dough ice cream as the serving machine might be contaminated.
Eating in Moderation
While there are safer cookie dough options to eat while pregnant like safe-to-eat-raw cookie dough, or the cookie dough found in ice-cream, these foods are still full of sugar and saturated fats. You and your baby will benefit from less-processed foods.
Processed foods are typically packaged, high in sugar, salt, and fats, and low in nutrients. For these reasons, these should be eaten in moderation as an occasional treat. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid all processed foods, but it is beneficial to balance those with more nutritious options so you don’t miss out on any key vitamins or minerals you and your baby need. It is also important to note that you should always check in with your health professional about eating cookie dough and ice-cream, especially if you have diabetes.
Learn About the Safety of Other Foods While Pregnant
Download Your Pregnancy Food Guide App to learn about other foods that are safe and unsafe to eat while pregnant.
Q and A:
1. Is raw cookie dough safe to eat while pregnant?
It is not recommended to eat unbaked cookie dough. Raw cookie dough can contain raw and unpasteurized ingredients like unpasteurized eggs, which can put you more at risk for foodborne illnesses that can be passed along to your baby
2. Is it okay to eat cookie dough during pregnancy?
Raw cookie dough is only safe to eat if the company states they have gone through the processes to make it safe (i.e. Using pasteurized eggs or professionally heat-treated flour)
3. Is there a cookie dough that is safe to eat while pregnant?
Some companies professionally heat-treat their flour and use pasteurized eggs. In this case, it is safe for pregnant women to eat it in the “raw” state. You can also make your own homemade cookie dough without using ingredients like raw eggs or raw flour, which would be safe to eat
4. Is cookie dough ice-cream safe to eat during pregnancy?
Cookie dough ice-cream specifically uses cookie dough that has been pasteurized. This means it is treated with mild heat, killing off harmful bacteria. Make sure your cookie dough ice-cream is made with pasteurized cookie dough prior to consuming.
5. What are the risks of eating cookie dough while pregnant?
Eating cookie dough prior to baking puts you more at risk of getting Salmonella or E. coli. It is also important to speak with your healthcare professional about eating things like cookie dough or cookie dough ice-cream during pregnancy due to its high sugar and fat content, especially if you have diabetes