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    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    Do Not Eat Nestle Toll House Prepackaged Cookie Dough

    Nestle Toll House prepackaged refrigerated products were recalled on June 19, 2009, over concerns about E. coli contamination, with the FDA advising consumers to throw away any dough they may have already purchased. (Cooking the dough is not recommended, as the bacterium could contaminate one's hands or cooking surfaces.)

    Since March, E. coli infections potentially linked to the dough have been reported in 66 people in 28 states, according to the FDA. There have been 25 hospitalizations —
    some with hemolytic uremic syndrome — and no deaths.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning consumers not to eat any varieties of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7 (a bacterium that causes food borne illness).

    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. Retailers, restaurateurs, and personnel at other food-service operations should not sell or serve any Nestle Toll House prepackaged, refrigerated cookie dough products subject to the recall. Since March 2009 there have been 66 reports of illness across 28 states. Twenty-five persons were hospitalized; 7 with a severe complication called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). No one has died.

    Because the appearance of E. coli 0157 in cookie dough is so unusual, investigators are looking at a broad range of possible factors, analyzing the ingredients, the plant's equipment and interior, the health of workers and whether the facility is located near cattle. Federal officials are also considering whether the dough might have been intentionally contaminated. 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 HUS, which can lead to serious kidney damage and even death. E. coli refers to many kinds of bacteria, most of which are harmless or even beneficial. But certain types, including E. coli 0157, produce a toxin that can cause severe illness and even death in humans. The E. coli 0157 bacterium lives in the intestines of cows and other animals -- goats, sheep, deer and elk -- and is found most often in ground beef. But over the past decade, a number of E. coli 0157 illness outbreaks have been associated with green, leafy produce, such as spinach

    For more information on safe food handling practices, go to

    State health officials first noticed cases of E. coli 0157 emerging in March. Initially, they suspected ground beef or strawberries. But after interviewing victims, state officials and the CDC compared notes during a conference call Tuesday and settled on the refrigerated cookie dough as the prime suspect.

    The risk usually associated with cookie dough is salmonella, a bacteria that can be found in raw eggs contained in the dough. Nestlé's cookie dough is packaged with labels warning consumers not to eat it raw. But people tend to disregard the warning -- 39 percent of consumers eat raw cookie dough, according to Consumer Reports. It has become such a popular snack that many ice cream makers have developed a cookie dough flavor.

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