The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued warning to consumers regarding risk of consumption of any variety of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7. If consumers have any prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products in their home they should throw them away. So far most cases of illness have been reported by eating raw dough but the bacteria can spread through handling or food-preparation surfaces therefore, cooking the dough also not recommended.
E. coli, generally, refers to many kinds of bacteria, most of which are harmless or even beneficial. But certain types of bacteria, including E. coli O157, which are usually found in the intestines of cows, goats, sheep, deer and elk, produce toxins that can cause severe illness and even death in humans. Over the past decade, a number of E. coli O157 illness outbreaks have been associated with green, leafy vegetable such as spinach.
E. coli O157 is a potentially deadly gram negative bacterium usually found in raw hamburger and contaminated meat. It can cause abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. Most healthy adults can recover within a week. Young children and elderly people are at a higher risk of developing a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
According to the CDC, E. coli infections are communicable and can spread from direct contact with contaminated food or water, or people who have come in direct contact with contaminated products.
How many people have been affected so far?
The FDA said consumption of Nestle cookie dough has caused food poisoning in 70 people across 30 states in the US. About 30 people have been hospitalized with symptoms of cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, but no one has died; although seven had a complication that can cause kidney damage or death. Out of 70 patients 41 cases have been linked to an outbreak associated with eating raw prepackaged cookie dough.
What does the investigation say about outbreak?
Investigators are testing samples of dough collected from the plant as well as from victims and have not confirmed the presence of E. coli O157 in any Nestle product so far. But William E. Keene, chief epidemiologist for the state of Oregon, said he is “100 percent” certain about cookie dough as virtually everyone who got sick ate the same brand of cookie dough.
In the CDC’s ongoing epidemiologic study of the outbreak, 90% of the patients who were asked questions about foods consumed during the days before becoming ill, reported eating raw cookie dough.
Nestle spokeswoman Roz O’Hearn said that the company took action in less than 24 hours after hearing the problem and recalled 47 varieties of prepackaged, refrigerated cookie dough products voluntarily. She also said that the company will fully cooperate with FDA’s investigation.
Nestle also said that the cookie dough is packaged with labels warning “consumers not to eat it raw”. But people tend to disregard with the warning. According to Consumer Reports 39% of consumers eat raw cookie dough. It has become such a popular snack that many ice cream makers have developed ice-cream with a cookie dough flavor.
Nestle also informed that customers with any questions can call Nestle Consumer Service at 1-800-559-5025 or visit the web site www.verybestbaking.com.
How many products have been recalled by Nestle?
Total 47 varieties of prepackaged, refrigerated cookie dough have been recalled, these were marketed under the Toll House brand includes tubs, tubes and some seasonal flavors. Here is the list of products:
COOKIE & BROWNIE DOUGH BAR
Chocolate Chip bar 16.5oz.
Chocolate Chunk bar 16.5oz.
Walnut Chocolate Chip bar 16.5oz.
Jumbo Chocolate Chip bar 16.5oz.
class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; line-height: 150%; text-align: justify;">Oatmeal Raisin bar 16.5oz.
Sugar Cookies bar 16.5oz.
Mini Chocolate Chip bar 16.5oz
Mini Brownie Bites bar 16oz.
Fudgy Brownie with Peanut Butter Filling 19oz.
COOKIE DOUGH TUB
Chocolate Chip tub 40oz. and 80oz. (5 lb)
Sugar tub 40oz.
Gingerbread tub 40oz.
Peanut Butter tub 40oz.
Chocolate Chip tube 16.5oz. and 32oz.
ULTIMATES COOKIE BAR DOUGH
Ultimates Peanut Butter Cups, Chips & Chocolate Chunks bar 16oz
Ultimates White Chip Macadamia Nut bar 16oz.
Ultimates Chocolate Chip & Chunks with Pecans bar 16oz.
Ultimates Chocolate Chip Lovers 16oz.
Ultimates Turtles bar 16oz.
Ultimates Peanut Butter Lovers bar 16oz.
Ultimates Chocolate Chip with Caramel Filling bar 16oz.
Ultimates Chocolate Chip with Chocolate Filling bar 16oz.
SEASONAL COOKIE & BROWNIE DOUGH
Valentine Hearts Sugar Cookie Shapes 15.5oz.
Valentine Swirled Chocolate Chip bar 16oz.
Fudgy Brownies with Raspberry Filling 19oz.
Easter Eggs Sugar Cookie Shapes 15.5oz.
Easter Swirled Chocolate Chip bar 16oz.
Easter Swirled Mini Brownie Bites bar 18oz.
Red, White & Blue Swirled Choc Chip bar 16oz.
Halloween Pumpkin Pals Sugar Cookies 13.5oz.
Halloween Swirled Chocolate Chip bar 16oz.
Halloween Swirled Fudgy Brownies bar 18oz.
Christmas Shapes Sugar Cookies 15.5oz.
Christmas Swirled Chocolate Chip bar 16oz
Christmas Swirled Fudgy Brownies bar 18oz.
Limited Edition Mint Swirled Chocolate Chip 16oz.
Valentine Hearts Sugar Cookies 13.5oz
Easter Brownie Bar 18oz
Easter Bunnies Sugar Cookies 13.5oz
Halloween Sugar Shapes 15.5oz
Christmas Sugar Cookie Tube 16oz
Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie Tub 48 oz.
The recall does not include Toll House chocolate chips or baking bars, or Dreyer’s and Edy’s ice cream products with Nestle Toll House cookie dough ingredients.
Lately various food recalls have been related to bacterial contamination, including a salmonella outbreak last winter was traced to a peanut company that sickened more than 600 people and was blamed for nine deaths. A separate outbreak of salmonella last year was linked to jalapeno peppers from Mexico that led 1,400 people to become ill. Others were salmonella outbreak in tomatoes, pistachios and now Nestle cookie dough. Such outbreaks lead to a threatening condition for consumers and the dilemma of what to consume or what to avoid.
People should read label carefully to avoid such harmful cases as Nestle mentioned that they have warning on their products “consumers not to eat it raw”. Moreover companies should be more clear about the warning on the products such as “Food poisoning can occur if dough is eaten raw” or “Raw dough can be deadly if used unbaked”.