Nestlé disputes Wall Street Journal story

Nestlé USA is disputing the accuracy of a story that appeared in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal. The article, written by health reporter Shirley Wang, reported that Nestlé “refused to give the FDA access to certain records, such as those involving pest-control and consumer complaints, during earlier inspections in recent years”.the_wall_street_journal_logo

Nestlé has been in the midst of a massive recall of its ready-to-bake Toll House cookie dough after the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control found what they believe is a link between the cookie dough and at least 70 cases of E. coli contamination in 30 states around the country. The FDA is still investigating the company’s Danville, Va., plant where Nestlé has suspended production of the ready-to-bake dough until they receive an all-clear.

The inspection in question, however, took place over two days in September, 2006, during which an inspector identified “four objectionable conditions or deficiencies” he felt needed attention, ranging from a few “ant-like insects” in a sugar dumping station, to a leaking pipe. The matters were discussed with a plant supervisor who agreed to take care of the problems, apparently to the inspector’s satisfaction.nestle_logo

At the same inspection, the FDA investigator also requested access to various records, which the FDA’s report says was denied by Nestlé.

“Companies can attempt to make conditions on what they will or will not permit during an inspection,” said Stephanie Kwisnek, a spokesperson for the FDA, “and some companies have a policy that they will outline this for our investigator at the beginning of the inspection. However, by law, they must provide the FDA with access to the records that the agency is entitled to under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and associated regulations.”

The Wall Street Journal story is “very misleading” said Laurie McDonald, a spokeswoman for Nestlé USA. “It looks as if we’re not cooperating and we are.”

The FDA agreed.

“Nestlé is cooperating fully with the FDA in this current inspection and is providing the necessary documentation,” said Kwisnek. “The company is also taking its own sampling, including both product and environmental swabs and is sharing its test results with the FDA.”

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