Is It Safe to Eat Raw Eggs?

Plenty of homemade foods—like mayo, hollandaise sauce and Caesar dressing—call for raw eggs. But can you eat raw eggs from a food-safety standpoint?

Who among us can refuse a lick of cookie dough or a bite of runny yolk over avocado toast? Eggs add flavor, protein and plenty of nutrients to many of our favorite dishes. Unfortunately, eggs are one of those foods you should never eat raw.

Can You Eat Raw Eggs?

No, it is never safe to consume raw eggs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding raw eggs because they can lead to serious illness.

Eggs may carry salmonella, a bacteria that causes food poisoning. Eggs can become contaminated with this bacteria before the shell is formed. The shell itself can also become contaminated from poultry droppings once the eggs have been laid (sorry for the visual).

The same goes for egg whites. You may have seen raw egg whites used in desserts or cocktails, but unless they have been pasteurized, raw egg whites can carry salmonella just like the yolks.

What Is Salmonella Poisoning?

Salmonella poisoning is often mild but can become serious. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning usually appear between six hours and six days after being exposed and can include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and fever.

This is especially true for people who are more at risk of getting seriously ill from salmonella. Young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system should be especially cautious around raw eggs.

Here’s a complete list of foods to avoid when you’re pregnant.

Is It Safe to Eat Raw Cookie Dough Without Eggs?

Sadly, removing eggs from raw cookie dough does not make it safe to eat. In addition to eggs, cookie dough contains raw flour.

Flour may not seem like raw food, but it is. Because flour has not been cooked or heat-treated, it can contain dangerous bacteria. Raw flour can carry Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning. For that reason, the CDC does not recommend ever consuming raw cookie dough.

Flour can become contaminated with E. coli before the grain is harvested or during the production process. This bacteria can then survive on grocery store shelves and in your pantry. Fortunately, the bacteria in flour is killed during the baking process.

You may be wondering about those tempting tubs of edible cookie dough you’ve seen at the store. Edible cookie dough does not contain raw eggs, and the flour in it has been heat-treated to kill any bacteria. Want to make your own safe treat? Try any of these edible cookie dough recipes at home. (Start with the monster cookie dough!)

Safety Tips for Working with Raw Eggs

  • Always wash your hands after touching raw eggs.
  • Wash any items that came in contact with raw eggs while you were cooking. This may include your countertop, mixing bowl, utensils and more.
  • If your recipe calls for raw egg, make sure you’re using pasteurized eggs to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
  • Refrigerate eggs and any egg-containing foods right away. Keep them at 40°F or colder.
  • Never use eggs that are cracked or appear dirty.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.