Can You Eat Raw Dough? Why You Shouldn’t

Published on
02 August 2022
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

If you are asking yourself, “can you eat raw dough?” the answer is pretty simple, no! You should never eat raw dough because there are many harmful bacteria in the flour and other ingredients. These bacteria could cause food poisoning or worse. But before you close the page, stick around to learn what’s in raw dough that can make it so harmful.

What is harmful in bread dough?

Flour does not get sterilised during the milling process. Doing so would hinder its ability to produce carbon dioxide and organic acids during the yeast fermentation process. Raw flour will have traces of fertiliser, insects and their eggs, and bacteria. In small doses, they won’t do much harm. However, if the right conditions are met for the bacteria to multiply, E. coli, a bacterium that causes intestinal illnesses can thrive. E Coli is thought to appear when the wheat comes in contact with animal faeces. 

Raw dough or cake batter often contains raw eggs, which can contain Salmonella. This bacteria can cause food poisoning, cramps, fever, and diarrhoea. When baking with eggs, there is always a risk of cross-contamination. Ensure you are working hygienically by washing your hands regularly and not touching your face.

Dough not cooked properly also contains active yeast, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms of a yeast allergy include skin rash, itching, and swelling.

Finally, eating raw dough may lead to tooth decay. The flour in the dough contains sugar, which bacteria produce acids in the mouth that attack teeth enamel. Live bacteria also digest carbohydrates present in food to create plaque, leading to tooth decay. I’m not sure about the severity, but as I discovered it during my research, it’s worth mentioning.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends baking dough to kill any harmful bacteria.

What can happen if you eat raw dough?

Eating raw dough can make you sick with stomach aches and diarrhoea, and in worst cases, hospitalised. You might just suffer from a bloated stomach, but is it worth the risk?

What happens if you eat undercooked bread dough?

Undercooked bread dough can contain the same bacteria as raw dough. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and make you sick. It is crucial to bake bread dough all the way through to kill these bacteria. Otherwise, you could end up with a stomachache or diarrhoea.

Follow my how to tell when bread is done guide, or use a temperature probe to check if the bread has surpassed 80C (176F), if not 90C (194F). As the bread reaches these temperatures, any bacteria that might be present will be killed.

I’ve eaten raw dough. What should I do?

If you’ve been unable to resist and have eaten raw dough, the best thing to do is relax. If you’ve only eaten a small amount, it’s unlikely that you’ll need medical attention. It’s rare to become seriously ill from eating raw dough, but if you do take a turn for the worst, get yourself down to your local hospital.

Conclusion – Can you eat raw dough?

So, now that you know all of the dangers of eating raw dough don’t do it! It’s not worth it. There are plenty of other delicious things to eat that won’t make you sick, things like the fully baked product should be tempting enough! The next time you’re tempted to eat raw dough or cookie batter, remember it could make you sick.

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