Baking flour can harbor toxin producing bacteria. Escherichia coli (aka E. coli) and species of Salmonella are suspected of moist environments like unwashed greens or eggs, but not dry, arid habitats. It turns out that these pathogens can persist for months in dry bags of flour. The message from a recent report is that you should resist the strong urge to have your cookie before it's baked: don't lick the spoon or spatula -- and don't give the kid the bowl to 'clean out' as my mom did -- when you bake cookies this holiday season because bacteria lurking in the dough might just make you sick. The same holds true if you bread fish before frying. Wash your hands thoroughly
This warning does not apply to cookie dough ice cream or to ready to bake cookies found in the dairy shelf of wherever you shop, which have been pasteurized or are otherwise free of contamination.