Dr. Dean

Can I Pass On A Cold With My Home-Baked Cookies?

Posting Date: 12/16/2002

Original Posting: 12/19/2000

Ann: Will I be giving people my cold along with their Christmas cookies?

I baked and iced sugar cookies last night and I have a cold. Can I safely give the cookies to people without giving them my germs?

Dr. Dean: Baking will kill the germs. The cookies were so pure and sterile when they came out of the oven that you could have injected them intravenously.

I'm assuming they were baked at 350 degrees or so. That is more than high enough to kill germs.

Visit the Colds and Flus Center

In the past, we thought that cold germs were spread through touch. But a study that I write about in detail in my book, Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, is making us think otherwise.

In the experiment, two groups of people -- one with colds and one without --spent time together, but they were separated by a wall of steel mesh. A fan blew air between the two areas. Without any physical contact, the people who had started out well, ended up with colds.

Researchers then had sick people and well people play card games together. They were outfitted with a big collar around their neck, so they could not touch their face, but the cards were thick and goopy with mucus. The colds were not spread among the players.

Colds also seemed to be passed more easily in their early stages and it takes many germs to transmit them. In other words, if I took one virus and dropped it in your nose, you probably wouldn't get a cold.

As long as you didn't sneeze and spit on the cookies as you iced and packed them, the recipients shouldn't catch anything harsher than a sugar high.