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E. coli Illnesses May Be Linked to Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough, FDA Warns

Jun 19, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, prompting the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to warn consumers not to eat any varieties of the product.  

E. coli O157:H7 causes abdominal cramping, vomiting and a diarrheal illness, often with bloody stools. Most healthy adults can recover completely within a week. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk for developing Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which can lead to serious kidney damage and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), E. coli 0157:H7 is responsible for sickening 73,000 people every year, and of those, 60 will die from the disease.

According to a notice on the FDA website, the Nestle Toll House cookie dough warning is based on an ongoing epidemiological study conducted by the CDC and several state and local health departments. Since March 2009 there have been 66 reports of illness across 28 states. Twenty-five persons were hospitalized; 7 with HUS. No one has died. The illnesses may be related  to consumption of raw cookie dough, although no E. coli bacteria has been detected in any Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products.

The possible association between the Nestle Toll House cookie dough and the E. coli illnesses has prompted Nestle USA's baking division to initiate a voluntary recall of the products.  The recall includes all varieties of Nestle Toll House refrigerated Cookie Bar Dough, Cookie Dough Tub; Cookie Dough Tube; Limited Edition Cookie Dough items; Seasonal Cookie Dough and Ultimates Cookie Bar Dough.  A complete list of recalled products is available here.  

Individuals who have recently eaten prepackaged, refrigerated Toll House cookie dough and have experienced any E. coli symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately. Any such illnesses should be reported to state or local health authorities.

The FDA advises that if consumers have any prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products in their home that they throw them away. Cooking the dough is not recommended because consumers might get the bacteria on their hands and on other cooking surfaces.

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