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E. coli found in Nestle cookie dough

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The Food and Drug Administration said on June 29 that it had found E coli O157:H7 in a sample of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough.

The contaminated sample was collected from Nestle's facility in Danville, Va on June 25, 2009. But the FDA said it has yet to determine whether this E. coli strain is causing the outbreak.

As of Thursday, June 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 69 people from 29 states have been infected with the outbreak strain. Thirty four people were hospitalized and nine suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome. No one died.

Early on June 19, the FDA and CDC warned consumers not to eat prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough. The warning was issued after an epidemiological study by the CDC and several state and local health departments linked cases of E. coli illnesses with the cookie dough.

The FDA said Nestle USA has fully cooperated with the government investigation and has already recalled all of its prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products.

E. coli O157:H7 is a pathogenic bacterium strain that can produce certain toxins that causes abdominal cramping, vomiting and a diarrheal illness, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week without medical intervention, young children and elderly people are at highest risk for developing HUS, a condition that can result in serious kidney damage and even death.

(David Liu) 

Questions and Answers About the Nestlé Toll House Cookie Dough Recall (cited from FDA)

June 22, 2009

Why are FDA and CDC warning the public not to eat Nestlé Toll House Cookie Dough?

The FDA/CDC warning is based on investigations by CDC and state and local health agencies of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections beginning in March. The latest information from those investigations indicates the illnesses are associated with Nestlé Toll House cookie dough products eaten raw. As a result, FDA and CDC are warning consumers not to eat any variety of Nestlé Toll House cookie dough products until further notice.

 Are Nestlé cookie dough products being recalled?

Yes. As a precaution, Nestlé USA, the manufacturer of Toll House cookie dough, is voluntarily recalling all of its Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products, which include several flavors, sizes and container types. A complete list of the recalled Nestlé products is available at this link to the firm's website: http://www.nestleusa.com/PubNews/PressReleaseLibraryDetails.aspx?id=133CC131-A79F-4E84-9C43-C9F99FE5BC99. Consumers with additional questions about recalled products can contact Nestlé USA at 800-559-5025.

 Does the recall apply to Nestlé Chocolate Chip Morsels or any other types of Nestlé products?

No. The recall applies only to the specified Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products.

 How many people are sick?

As of June 22, 71 illnesses in 30 states have been reported to CDC as part of the outbreak; 28 individuals have been hospitalized, seven with a form of kidney failure associated with the infection called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). For the most up to date numbers, see the CDC website.

 What is E. coli O157:H7?

E. coli O157:H7 is a bacterium that can cause serious foodborne illness in a person who eats a food item contaminated with it. Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe and often bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Usually, little or no fever is present. Onset of illness can occur anytime between one to eight days after eating a contaminated food product. Most healthy adults recover within a week. Young children and the elderly are at higher risk for developing Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) as a result of the infection. HUS can lead to serious kidney damage and death.

 What should consumers do with Nestlé cookie dough products they have on hand?

Anyone who has any Nestlé cookie dough product in his or her home freezer, refrigerator or elsewhere should throw out the product immediately. Individuals should wash their hands thoroughly after handling the product. The product should not be baked, eaten raw, or handled unnecessarily.

 What should someone do if they have recently eaten a recalled Nestlé product?

Individuals who have recently eaten a Nestlé Toll House cookie dough product and are experiencing any symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection (see above) should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately, or go to a hospital emergency room.

 What is FDA doing in its investigation?

FDA is working with Nestlé USA to ensure suspect products are removed from the supply chain and retail shelves. FDA personnel also are inspecting the producing facility, including examining records and production and safety procedures to determine how the problem occurred and how it can be prevented in the future.

 Should consumers eat uncooked cookie dough?

Nobody should eat any raw food products that are intended for cooking or baking before consumption. Consumers should also use safe food-handling practices when preparing such products, including following package directions for cooking at proper temperatures and for specified times. Hands, work surfaces, and utensils should be washed thoroughly after contact with raw products. Products requiring refrigeration should be chilled promptly after purchase or use. More information on safe food handling practices is available at FDA's food webpage for http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109899.htm.

Questions & Answers: Sickness caused by E. coli (cited from CDC)

What is E. coli?

E. coli is a common kind of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and people. There are many strains of E. coli. Most are harmless. However, one dangerous strain is called E. coli O157:H7. It produces a powerful poison. You can become very sick if it gets into your food or water. 

In 1999 it was estimated that about 73,000 people in the U.S. got sick each year from E. coli. About 60 died. It’s believed that the number of illnesses and deaths has been dropping since then.
How is E. coli O157:H7 spread?

Outbreaks often are caused by food that has gotten the bacteria, E coli, in it. Bacteria can get accidentally mixed into ground beef before packaging. Eating undercooked meat can spread the bacteria, even though the meat looks and smells normal. E. coli can also live on cows’ udders. It may get into milk that is not pasteurized. 

Raw vegetables, sprouts, and fruits that have been grown or washed in dirty water can carry E. coli O157:H7. It can get into drinking water, lakes, or swimming pools that have sewage in them. It is also spread by people who have not washed their hands after going to the toilet. 

E. coli can be spread to playmates by toddlers who are not toilet trained or by adults who do not wash their hands carefully after changing diapers. Children can pass the bacteria in their stool to another person for 2 weeks after they have gotten well from an E. coli O157:H7 illness. Older children and adults rarely carry the bacteria without symptoms.
What are the signs of E. coli O157:H7 sickness?

Bloody diarrhea and stomach pain are the most common signs of E. coli O157:H7 sickness. People usually do not have a fever, or may have only a slight fever.

Some people, especially children under 5 and the elderly, can become very sick from E. coli O157:H7. The infection damages their red blood cells and their kidneys. This only happens to about 1 out of 50 people, but it is very serious. Without hospital care, they can die. See a doctor right away if you think you may have gotten sick from E. coli O157:H7.
How will my doctor know if E. coli O157:H7 made me sick?

Your doctor will test to see if your sickness was caused by E. coli by sending a stool sample to a lab. The lab will test for the bacteria.

Anyone who suddenly has diarrhea with blood in it should call or see a doctor.
How is it treated?

Your doctor will tell you what is best. Taking medicine on your own may not help you get better, and it could make things worse. Do not take antibiotics or diarrhea medicine like Imodium® unless your doctor tells you to. 
Will E. coli O157:H7 infection cause problems for me later?

People who have only diarrhea and stomach ache usually get completely well in 5-10 days. They do not have problems later.

For those people who get very sick and have kidney failure, about 1 out of 3 may have kidney problems later. In rare cases, people have other problems like high blood pressure, blindness, or are paralyzed. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about this.
What is the U.S. government doing to keep food safe from E. coli O157:H7?

New laws have helped keep food from being contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. They keep meat safer during slaughter and grinding, and vegetables safer when they are grown, picked, and washed. But there is still a chance that E. coli O157:H7 could reach your food, so you should take the precautions listed below.
What can I do to stay safe from E. coli O157:H7?
During an outbreak: Carefully follow instructions provided by public health officials on what foods to avoid in order to protect yourself and your family from infection.
Cook all ground beef thoroughly. During an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, vegetables should be boiled for at least 1 minute before serving.
Cook ground beef to 160° F Test the meat by putting a food thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Do not eat ground beef that is still pink in the middle.
If a restaurant serves you an under-cooked hamburger, send it back for more cooking. Ask for a new bun and a clean plate, too.
Don’t spread bacteria in your kitchen. Keep raw meat away from other foods. Wash your hands, cutting board, counter, dishes, and knives and forks with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat, spinach, greens, or sprouts.
Never put cooked hamburgers or meat on the plate they were on before cooking. Wash the meat thermometer after use.
Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, or cider. Frozen juice or juice sold in boxes and glass jars at room temperature has been pasteurized, although it may not say so on the label.
Drink water from safe sources like municipal water that has been treated with chlorine, wells that have been tested or bottled water.
Do not swallow lake or pool water while you are swimming.

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