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FDA: Nestle Toll House cookie dough linked to E. coli illness

The Food and Drug Administration issued a public advisory statement on June 19 on its website warning consumers not to eat Nestle Toll House prepackaged, refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of potential contamination with E. coli O157:H7.

The FDA statement came after months of investigation into the association between E. coli illness and consumption of cookie dough. Since March 2009, 66 cases of illness have been reported in 28 states. Twenty-five persons were hospitalized; 7 suffered a severe complication called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), but no one died, the FDA said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Thursday, June 18, 2009, 65 persons infected with a strain of E. coli O157:H7 with a particular DNA fingerprint have been reported from 29 states, including Arkansas (1), Arizona (2), California (2), Colorado (5), Delaware (1), Hawaii (1), Iowa (2), Illinois (5), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (4), Maryland (2), Maine (3), Minnesota (5), Missouri (2), Montana (1), North Carolina (1), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (1), Nevada (2), Ohio (4), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1), Texas (3), Utah (2), Virginia (2), Washington (5), and Wisconsin (1).

On June 19, Nestle USA, the manufacturer of the concerned products, announced that it had voluntarily initiated a nationwide recall for raw cookie dough. The company said in its press release the E coli strain implicated in the investigation has not been found in the concerned product.

The recalled products include 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.

Nestle said no other Nestle TOLL HOUSE products are affected including baked TOLL House cookies , all varieties of Nestle TOLL HOUSE morsels, chocolate baking bars, or cocoa and Dreyer's and Edy's ice cream products with Nestle TOLL HOUSE cookie dough ingredients.

Consumers who purchased the recalled products should not eat them and instead return the products to the store where the product was purchased for a full refund.  

The FDA advised that "Individuals who have recently eaten prepackaged, refrigerated Toll House cookie dough and have experienced any of these symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately. Any such illnesses should be reported to state or local health authorities."

E. coli O157:H7 is a pathogenic bacterium 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.


(By David Liu and edited by Rachel Stockton)