Safer Christmas cookies make for a happier holiday season

Holiday cookies are even tastier when they're prepared in a safe, clean kitchen. The cookie shaped like a Christmas tree, wreath or snowman is a delicious part of the season, but be sure to clean cooking surfaces and avoid eating the dough to make them an even more enjoyable addition to the celebrations. Raw dough could make you sick, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension food specialist Julie Albrecht. "Raw eggs in the dough have the potential for Salmonella, which can cause foodborne illness," she said. Albrecht said these illnesses, with symptoms ranging from vomiting to fever, are more serious in children because their immune systems are not fully developed. Even though Albrecht encourages parents to involve their children in the kitchen, they must take precautions. "An alternative is to use pasteurized eggs in the shell or an egg substitute when making cookies with children who want to lick the spoon and bowl," she said. Once that dough is ready to go into the oven, it's important to follow directions for cooking temperatures and times, as uncooked dough poses the same risks. Baking the dough until done kills the bacteria. Any dough that is not going to be baked right away should be chilled to prevent bacterial growth.Source: Julie Albrecht, Ph. D., professor, nutrition and health sciences, 402-472-8884,