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shilolo's avatar

Licking the bowl: Fun treat or salmonella roulette?

Asked by shilolo (17986points) January 10th, 2010

Having just finished baking some cupcakes with the kids, they both eagerly wanted to lick the bowl. The recipe (obviously) includes raw eggs (butter, sugar, flour, baking soda, vanilla and eggs). Of course, at the end of the prep work, the batter is tasty. I know that raw eggs have a risk of contamination, but does anyone have any firsthand stories or knowledge about this practice? Know anyone that has gotten sick?

I’ve personally never heard or seen a case, but the medical literature certainly addresses it.

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37 Answers

Spinel's avatar

I’ve been lickin’ batters all my life. Nothing (except a satisfied stomach) has ever happened. No one I know has gotten sick, either. I don’t know what a New York Doctor might say…but I say it tastes good.

avvooooooo's avatar

I’ve never, ever gotten sick from it. And I’ve licked a lot of bowls.

john65pennington's avatar

I am 66 years old and i have been licking the bowl of cupcake batter, since i was 5 years old. i have not kicked the bucket, yet.

DominicX's avatar

Am I the only one grossed out by the idea of licking batter?


chyna's avatar

@DominicX Yes you are the only one. I’ve licked raw batter all my life. Still kicking.
@shilolo So did you let them lick?

Haleth's avatar

Egg beaters are pasteurized, so they don’t have any danger of bacteria. If you use those instead, it will be safe to lick the bowl.

Aethelwine's avatar

It is so hard to say no, isn’t it. My daughter has been sneaking into the peanut butter cookie dough all afternoon.

I know your children are quite young. If you are worried, just let them lick a little bit. They don’t need to clean the bowl. Tell them to leave you some. :)

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I just buy pasteurized eggs so I don’t have to worry about it. The brand Davidson Farms is pasteurized and carried across most of the US.

AstroChuck's avatar

@shilolo- You are in the Bay Area. Isn’t salmonella in eggs far less common here on the west coast?

Cupcake's avatar

@shilolo – I would think you could answer this question better than any of us!

I eat batter. I tried to not let my little one eat it… but it’s very difficult to keep them away.

I figured that if you add 2 “fresh” eggs that have just been taken out of the fridge and eat 1 tsp of batter out of the whole mix, you are probably eating 1/100 or so of 1 refrigerated egg… isn’t the risk pretty small??

Trillian's avatar

Unless the bowl is full at the beginning of the lick process and empty at teh end, there shouldn’t be a problem. I was making soap once. You can melt it and whip it with an electric mixer. It will be just like frosting consistency so you can make roses, etc. I have some great smelling fragrances, chocolate, sugar cookie… My son who was seven at the time, asked me if he could lick the beaters. I said ok. Hehehehe. When he could talk again he said “Mom, I can’t believe you let me put that in my mouth!!” I said “Son, you knew I was making soap.”
Yeah, I live for those moments….

tinyfaery's avatar

Mmm…batter is better than the finished product. I’ve been licking the bowl (and the spoon) since I can remember. I have yet to get sick because of it.

wilma's avatar

I don’t ever eat raw batter or dough with eggs in it. I never let my kids do it either. (My mom never let us)
I may be over cautious, but I have had Salmonella poisoning.
I don’t EVER want it again.
And no, I didn’t get it from eating raw eggs.

Ivan's avatar

Can’t it be both?

shilolo's avatar

@chyna The three year old licked his little personal spatula that he used to “help.” The one year old tried sticking her fingers in, but was stopped repeatedly by me, until of course, she managed to get through and taste a tiny bit… She’s got quick little hands.
@Cupcake Yes, I know the risks. But some things seem overblown. We sterilize our environment so much that we suffer for it.
@wilma Ouch.
@all The thing about food poisoning from uncooked eggs or chicken is that, depending on the contaminating bacteria, as little as 10 to a few hundred bacteria are enough to cause disease. Bacteria are so tiny (and typically numerous), that a few licks could easily have enough bacteria to cause disease.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Oooh. That’s the best part of baking. If I could get away with it, I’d just make chocolate chip cookie dough to eat. Forget about baking the cookies. I’ve never, ever gotten sick.

sjmc1989's avatar

My mother never let us, but I always snuck in a couple of licks. Now I always lick the bowl, but have that fear of salmonella in the back of my mind. I don’t have any self control it is just so Yummy!

john65pennington's avatar

Here is another question concerning raw eggs. do they still make egg nog with raw eggs?

casheroo's avatar

I was going to say the same as others, wouldn’t you know best? hehe

I eat the batter prior to adding the eggs, but I’m pregnant and just don’t take the risk currently. Usually, I eat the batter.
I assume the risk is salmonella? I’m sure in some cases it can kill, right? Or just cause a nasty case of food poisoning with risk of dehydration?
I think we all come into contact with some nastier things in the general public…of course things we can’t see. Can’t live in a bubble all the time! I say it’s fine. In moderation, of course. lol

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@john65pennington: There are two different commonly used recipes, one with raw eggs, and one in which the eggs are cooked. Alton Brown sums them up.

As far as store-bought eggnogs, I have no idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re all high fructose corn syrups and hydrogenated oils, and don’t even have eggs at all.

knitfroggy's avatar

My mom never let us eat batter or cookie dough. We were always told weld get “worms”. To this day I don’t lick the cowl or beaters, but I always let my kids. I don’t think its dangerous, I just have an aversion to it because raw batter is linked to worms in my mind.

Adagio's avatar

Childhood just wouldn’t be childhood without a cake/biscuit NZ-speak for cookie bowl to scrape and lick.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Home made ice cream is supposed to pose a danger, too, with raw eggs. Some recipes say to cook the mixture, but I never have. I’ve used that same recipe for years & we’ve never gotten sick from that either.

eponymoushipster's avatar

old Ukrainian joke:

“Mamma, mamma – can i lick the bowl?”
“Stop bothering me or i’ll flush first!”

andrew's avatar

One thing that I think I asked here is whether the salmonella risk is drastically reduced with organic eggs. Anyone have information about that?

I seem to think that organic eggs exempt me from this, so I lick the spoon. Do it.

janbb's avatar

I come from a long line of batter bowl and beater lickers and hopefully am spawning an even longer line of batter bowl lickers. Nobody has ever gotten sick from it. I did have salmonella poisoning in Europe and it was no fun, but not from raw batter. Why bake if you can’t lick?

AstroChuck's avatar

@andrew- This Slate article says that properly handled eggs have a lower chance of salmonella, which is pretty low anyway. I figure that organic eggs are more likely to be handled properly. Either way it doesn’t sound like your odds are too good of finding an egg with salmonella.

SuperMouse's avatar

I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere that putting an egg in boiling water for sixty seconds will kill any salmonella. I have no idea if that is true or if it changes the consistency of the egg. As a lifetime bowl licker, and mom who lets her kids lick the bowl, beaters, and spatula, I’ve been wanting to give it a try. I have never done it though and I can honestly say that neither my kids nor I have ever been sickened by eating the batter.

SeventhSense's avatar

I eat this
I laugh in the face of cookie dough

dalepetrie's avatar

I’ve read that the chances of an egg being contaminated by salmonella is less than 1 in 20,000 and that most of the eggs that are contaminated are due to certain producers using improper storage and refrigeration methods, so the actual odds of an egg you buy in a grocery store actually having the bacteria is very, very small. And yes, the use of anti-biotics in non-organic egg production has been shown to increase the incidence of salmonella infection. Now, because salmonella does multiply so quickly, if you do consume even a small amount of a contaminated egg, you probably would get sick. I guess overall, I’d say you’re in more danger of dying in your car on the way to the grocery store than you are by licking the batter. But it’s possible, just like it’s possible to get hit by lightning or have a piano fall on top of you out of a 4th story window.

MissAusten's avatar

Just try to come between me and my cookie dough or cake batter, I dare you! I do a lot of baking, at least one batch of cookies a week, and always sample the dough. If the kids are around, they always ask for a sample too. None of us has ever gotten sick. I’ve never personally known anyone who’s become ill from raw eggs or products containing raw eggs, either.

SeventhSense's avatar

And eggs are routinely left unrefrigerated and exposed for weeks at a time on farms before they make it to the market. The FDA’s party line is that nothing should be eaten raw and all meat should be cooked to well done. I would be much more concerned in places outside the US or Europe.
And talk about barf central: how about China’s Century Egg
I wonder who the fool hearty soul it was who first sampled this delight.

Thai_Chi's avatar

The only safe eggs are pasteurized eggs. Does anyone remember that Safeway and Costco recalled organic eggs last Spring due to salmonella?

My nephew got salmonellosis from a French Silk pie. He was in the hospital for a week. It was awful.

That 1 in 20,000 stat is OLD. The FDA now figures that 1 in 50 Americans will be exposed to salmonella from eggs. The new stat is more like 1 in 4,000 eggs is contaminated.

Think about it: chickens are barnyard animals and come into contact with bacteria of all kinds. Salmonella migrated to them from rabbits and horses about 20 years ago. You can’t tell a hen has it by looking at it. It doesn’t make the hen sick; it just exists in their bodies like lots of other bacteria do.

You can get eggs pasteurized in the shell so you don’t have to use the yucky liquid junk.

SeventhSense's avatar

I have never even seen a rotten egg in my lifetime but lucky for me I like eggs well done, scrambled.. even browned.
Go figure I’ll slurp up raw sea urchin but runny eggs gross me out.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@SeventhSense: Eggs don’t have to be rotten to have salmonella.

SeventhSense's avatar

They just have to come from chickens that mate with fish :P

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