E. coli found in factory sample of Nestle Toll House dough

Investigators with the FDA have found evidence of E. Coli in a package of Nestlé Toll House cookie dough at the company’s Danville, Va., plant.

The discovery comes nearly two weeks after Nestlé USA closed the plant following the news the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control had linked a nationwide outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 with Nestlé’s popular ready-to-bake cookie dough. Nestlé closed its plant the day after it received the information from the government agencies and issued a recall of about 300,000 cases of the product.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Edie Burge, a spokeswoman for Nestlé at its Glendale, Calif., offices.

While obtaining a contaminated sample was key to the investigation, the question of just how E. coli got into the Danville plant has yet to be answered, and investigators will continue their work with further testing, said Burge.

The Danville factory is actually home to production of two Nestlé brands: Toll House cookie dough, and Buitoni, which makes fresh pasta. The Buitoni side of the operations have been unaffected by the contamination and work has continued there. The Toll House plant has been closed for 11 days and its more-than-200 employees are being offered paid time off or shifts in the Buitoni plant as they become available, said Burge.

Sixty-nine people in 29 states have been made ill with E. coli, allegedly as a result of eating raw cookie dough from Nestlé. Forty-six of those ill are confirmed to have the outbreak strain, and 34 persons have been hospitalized. Nine developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure; no one has died.

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