by Marion Nestle
Jun 30 2009

E. coli found in cookie dough

The story thus far:

From January to June 2009, at least 69 people from 29 states have gotten sick with E. coli O157:H7.  Many of them confessed to eating Nestlé’s raw cookie dough.

On June 19, the FDA warned the public not to eat Nestlé’s raw cookie dough.  Nestlé issued a “voluntary’ recall.

Everyone is baffled about how E. coli O157:H7 could have gotten into cookie dough.  They wonder if cookie dough really is the cause.

The voluntary recall isn’t working (most don’t).  Obama Foodorama has no trouble finding plenty of recalled cookie dough on Washington DC shelves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that since 2006, Nestlé has consistently refused to allow FDA investigators to look at their safety records.  The company doesn’t have to.  All those pesky regulatory requirements are voluntary (that word again).

But now, in a spirit of someone more enforced cooperation, Nestlé lets the FDA in.  Bingo.  On June 29, the FDA says it finds E. coli O157:H7 in one batch of cookie dough.    But conversations with FDA officials leave many questions unanswered.

Nestlé is understandably concerned.   The company says it “deeply regrets” what happened and is fully cooperating with the FDA.

OK.  So if we didn’t know it before, we know it now: “voluntary” is a euphemism for not having to do anything.  Doesn’t this suggest the need for some real regulations?

  • Jon

    But it’s your job to know how to cook. Never mind that years of convenience food have made it so nobody in this country knows how to cook anymore.

  • Janet Camp

    If no one knows how to cook anymore, it’s because parents have abdicated their responsibility to teach their children. Of course, this is a complicated issue and advertising, television, both parents working, prepared food on every corner,–all play a role, but each individual can fight back by becoming informed (read Dr. Nestle’s books for a start) and by spending even a little time in the kitchen with the children. I don’t have a television and that helps a lot I think. You, too, can kill your television–you will NOT be struck by lightening and in a month you will not miss it.

  • The problem may not just be not knowing how to cook healthy foods. For many people it is not even having access to fresh food. Too many people know the food they eat is not healthy, but have to live with the dissonance because getting the fresh, healthy food creates more of a burden than they can handle.

  • Yes, real regulation that protects Americans all along the food chain is needed desperately. Corporations should not be allowed to continue to feed Americans food that result in illness, disease or death. I hope that the new regime will start to influence our food system and really make progress towards change. There is not “one” answer or solution, but rather, many things that need to change.

    I just saw the movie Food, Inc. over the weekend which describes the situation our food system is in today. My hope is that the people who really need to see this movie do, in fact, get out to see it. And then start asking questions. Of our government, of our farmers, at their grocery store or restaurants. Informed Americans can make the smart decisions. And they will. I believe.

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