FDA Finds E. coli At Nestle PlantJun 30, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced it found E. coli O157:H7 in a sample of prepackaged Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough currently under recall by the manufacturer and marketer, Nestlé USA. The contaminated sample was collected at Nestlé’s facility in Danville, Virginia on June 25, 2009.
On June 19, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned consumers not to eat any varieties of prepackaged Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The warning was based on an epidemiological study conducted by the CDC and several state and local health departments. As of June 25, the CDC reported that 69 peopled from 29 states had been infected with the outbreak strain; 34 people were hospitalized, nine with a severe complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). To date, there have been no reports of death associated with the outbreak, the FDA said.
More laboratory testing is needed to conclusively link the E. coli strain found in the product to the same strain that is causing the outbreak, the FDA said.
Meanwhile, we reported last week that officials at Nestlé’s Danville, Virginia facility legally refused—on several occasions—to provide FDA officials access to certain records during inspections, citing the Wall Street Journal. That facility has been implicated in the multi-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
At the time that the FDA issued its warning to consumers to not eat any varieties of Prepackaged Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough, it said that dozens of E. coli illnesses might be related to consumption of raw cookie dough; Nestlé recalled 300,000 cases of those cookie dough products and announced the temporary closing of its Danville, Virginia plant because of the E. coli outbreak. Inspectors from the FDA have been at the plant trying to determine how the cookie dough might have come in contact with E. coli. According to the CDC, E. coli O157:H7 has not been previously associated with eating raw cookie dough.
An earlier Journal report stated that during some inspections over the past five years, officials at the Nestlé plant in Danville refused to allow the FDA to look at records relating to issues such as pest control. For instance, in 2006 an FDA inspector was not permitted access to consumer complaints, and was not able to inspect the facility’s food contamination prevention program. During that inspection, dirty equipment and “three live ant-like insects” were noted, but these were insufficient to give the facility a failing grade, the Journal said.
According to the Journal, in most instances, companies are not required to show those types of records to the FDA, and such refusals are not uncommon. The FDA can only compel food firms to turn them over if it invokes a bioterrorism law, and can show that foods made at a facility pose a serious health threat. The only exception to this would be facilities that produce infant formula, seafood, juices, and low-acid canned food, the Journal said.
Nestlé USA consumer services can be reached at 1-800-559-5025 or accessed at www.verybestbaking.com. A complete listing of recalled Nestlé products can be accessed at: http://www.Nestlé usa.com/PubNews/PressReleaseLibraryDetails.aspx?id=133CC131-A79F-4E84-9C43-C9F99FE5BC99