Nothing says holiday joy like a neighborhood cookie exchange, or in my case, someone just giving me holiday cookies, but this year begs a tough question.

This question popped up in the Grand Rapids feed on the NextDoor app this week, and I think it's a fair question.

NextDoor

Most people said basically "Heck yeah!" in their responses, and one commenter linked to an article that had some guidelines for cookie safety.

The cookies themselves shouldn’t be a concern. COVID-19 isn’t a foodborne illness. That is, unlike salmonella, E. coli, or another bug that tends to live in food, the coronavirus doesn’t remain viable in food for long because, like any virus, it can’t reproduce outside of animal cells. However delicious the cookies may be, the virus won’t be able to feed off of them and will degrade pretty quickly. The exact length of time depends on how much virus is there to begin with, but the fact is that this one seems not to persist in sufficient quantities to infect people.

And baking is caring!

Baking is essentially the same process that hospitals use to sterilize medical instruments. Extreme heat can quickly kill the virus. Just three minutes at above 149 degrees Fahrenheit has been shown to do the job. I don’t recommend baking if you know you’re sick, but even if you were unknowingly contagious and breathing heavily and singing while mixing the ingredients, any viral particles you managed to plant in the dough should be destroyed within seconds in a 400-degree oven. This cookie exchange should not turn into a Typhoid Mary situation.

So fire up that oven and bake you and your friends some cookies. And drop some off at my house!

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