Archive for the ‘E. coli’ Category

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

June 30, 2009

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.

submit to reddit


No leads yet in E. coli outbreak

June 25, 2009

Investigation at Nestlé’s Virginia plant by FDA continues

Speculation about the possible contamination of a popular brand of ready-to-bake cookie dough with E. coli O157:H7 continues, but so far there have been no leads.

It’s been a week since officials at Nestlé USA, based in Solon, Ohio, learned about a possible link to their Toll House cookie dough in a nationwide outbreak of E. coli. So far, at least 70 people have been sickened in 30 states, and 30 of those people have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Seven of the victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure. No one has died.

Nestlé, in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, is investigating whether their product is the source of the contamination, and just how E. coli may have ended up in their product. They issued a full recall of 300,000 cases of the cookie dough immediately after being notified by the FDA of the possible link to their company last week, and have closed their production facility in Virginia while the investigation continues.

“We just don’t know at this point,” said Nestlé spokeswoman Edie Burge early this afternoon. The FDA is looking at “every aspect of production,” she said, from the water the plant uses to operating procedures, and the manufacturing plant’s air control system.

Two lawsuits have been filed against Nestlé by people in California and Colorado, and another family in Oregon has asked for an apology from Nestle for the illness their teenage daughter suffered after eating what they believe was contaminated cookie dough.

“We just learned about this issue last week and reacted as quickly as we could,” Laurie MacDonald, vice president of corporate and brand affairs, told the Portland Oregonian earlier this week. “If it is determined that our product is the source of the girl’s illness, we will certainly apologize to her and her parents.”

If people do become ill, Nestlé encourages them to contact their physician, said Burge.

submit to reddit

And the litigation begins

June 25, 2009

Lawsuits against Nestlé USA filed in California and Colorado

Two lawsuits have been filed against Nestlé USA after people were sickened with E. coli O157:H7, believed to be linked to the company’s popular Toll House cookie dough.

Jillian Collins, an 18-year-old San Carlos, Calif., resident and Madison Sedbrook, 6, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., were both hospitalized after becoming gravely ill with E. coli contamination. The families of both victims believe their illnesses stem from eating raw Nestlé Toll House cookie dough. In each case, the genetic fingerprint of their tests matched that of the outbreak strain which has infected at least 70 people across the country. Both cases are being handled by Marler TollhousecookiesClark law firm of Seattle, which specializes in food-borne illnesses.

Collins, who filed the first lawsuit against Nestlé over the weekend, was hospitalized for a week at Stanford Medical Center after eating raw cookie dough on May 20 and 22. On May 25, she became painfully ill and suffered “abdominal cramps, nausea and bloody diarrhea” according to San Francisco Chronicle.

Sedbrook, who will begin first grade in the fall, suffered an even more dramatic bout with the pathogen.

“Madison was on the verge of kidney failure last month when doctors determined E. coli bacteria were the cause of her bloody diarrhea and vomiting,” Denver Post reported today. “The little girl’s blood had begun to clump, making it nearly impossible for her kidneys to function…”

“Not knowing the source of her illness, she continued to eat Nestlé cookie dough, and by the first week of May, she had abdominal cramps, fever, and bloody diarrhea,” Marler Clark attorney Bill Marler wrote in Marler Blog. “Over the next several weeks, the family sought medical care several times for Madison’s illness, which deepened in severity.  She was admitted to the hospital and then released before being rushed back and admitted to pediatric intensive care.”

Both Collins and Sedbrook eventually recovered, and both were able to attend school commencement ceremonies after their release from hospital.

Nestlé, in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, is investigating whether their product is the source of the contamination, and just how E. coli may have ended up in their product. They issued a full recall of 300,000 cases of the cookie dough immediately after being notified by the FDA of the possible link to their company, and have closed their production facility in Virginia while the investigation continues.

submit to reddit

Anyone up for a game of Clue?

June 23, 2009

Colonel Mustard

Speculation about the source of the E. coli 0157:H7 is still up in the in air, but it might make for an exciting parlor game. Anyone up for a game of Clue?

“So, how the hell does cow shit (E. coli O157:H7) get into Nestles’ Toll House cookie dough?” wonders Seattle attorney Bill Marler, in his blog.

“For starters, we don’t really know yet whether raw cookie dough is the source of this E. coli outbreak,” replied nutritionist and writer Marion Nestle in Food Politics. “It could be something else, and Nestlé will have recalled 300,000 cases purely out of precaution.  The most likely source of bacterial contamination is eggs, but eggs typically carry Salmonella, not E. coli O157:H7.   And besides, the eggs in raw cookie dough are undoubtedly pasteurized, which ought to kill any bacteria that happen to be present.”

More than 65 people in 28 states have been made ill since March, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and 25 of those were hospitalized. No one has died, but seven people have suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, as a result.

For the record, Nestlé does use pasteurized eggs in its cookie dough, according to Edie Burge, a spokesperson for the company in Glendale, Calif.

What’s significant about this particular outbreak is the contamination, itself. E. coli, as Marler so eloquently noted, is typically found in meat. The major ground beef recalls over the past several years have almost all been linked to E. coli contamination after fecal-contaminated muscle tissue is ground in with meat from other animals.

“A single fast food hamburger now contains meat from dozens or even hundreds of different animals,” journalist Eric Schlosser wrote in Fast Food Nation. Of course, we’re not talking about hamburger, here. The ingredients for Nestle Chocolate Chip Toll House cookie dough certainly don’t list any ingredients that could raise suspicion, except for the eggs (Thanks to Fooducate for the ingredients listing).

“Bleached Enriched Flour, Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Nestle Toll House Morsels, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin – an Artificial Flavor, Natural Flavor, Sugar, Margarine, Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Salt, Whey, Soy Lecithin, Mono-, Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Beta-Carotene Color, Vitamin A Palmitate Added, Water, Eggs, Molasses, Baking Soda, Salt, Vanilla Extract, Vanillin – an Artificial Flavor.”

A Dutch study published in 2002 even suggests that milk fats may inhibit growth of food-borne pathogens, although it noted that E. coli was less vulnerable to milk fat’s bactericidal properties. Vegetable oils, too, can inhibit growth of pathogens. Other ingredients, such as water, are being tested by the FDA.

It’s possible, then, that contaminated eggs somehow made it into the product, or that the contamination came from in house. It’s too early to speculate, as Burge noted, and the investigation at Nestle’s Danville, Va., plant is really just getting underway. Until then, it could very easily have been Col. Mustard in the library – with the candlestick, no doubt.

submit to reddit

Nestlé plant under investigation

June 23, 2009


The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the production plant in Danville, Va., where Nestlé makes its Toll House cookie dough. Nestlé recalled 48 varieties of its Toll House cookie dough after it learned last Wednesday about a possible connection between a 28-state outbreak of E. coli 0157:H and its popular ready-to-bake product.

Nestlé announced the recall Friday morning, telling customers not to consume the dough and encouraging customers to return any product they might have for refunds. More than 65 people have fallen ill since March, according to the FDA, and 25 of those were hospitalized. No one has died, but seven people have suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, as a result.

Nestlé suspended production last Thursday so the FDA could examine the plant, as well as the equipment and the company’s procedures to pinpoint the source of the contamination, said Edie Burge, a spokesperson for Nestlé. The company’s consumer analysis group has been poring over customer comments and feedback dating back to March looking for any information about the outbreak that might have come to them earlier.

For now, nothing in the plant has been changed since production ended and the FDA started its investigation, said Burge.  “We want them to come into our factory and see the conditions as they are,” she said.

submit to reddit

Obama expected to bring changes to FDA

November 10, 2008

Following two years of laissez-faire management, President-elect Barak Obama and the Democratic-dominated Congress are expected to significantly increase the Food and Drug Administration’s role in monitoring food and drug imports. reported Friday that the beleaguered agency may receive increased authority and oversight through efforts by Senate Democrats. The FDA has faced severe criticism from consumer groups for its lax handling of several food contamination incidents over the past couple of years, including poor responses to salmonella tainted spinach from California two years ago and a completely disorganized effort to track down the source of E.coli contaminated jalapeño peppers earlier this year.

Obama is also being encouraged to appoint a new commissioner to the agency; supposedly, more than half a dozen people are under consideration for the position. To read the full story, click here.

August 11, 2008

Whole Foods Recalls Beef
E. coli tainted beef linked to Nebraska Beef Ltd.

Whole Foods, the upscale national chain of grocery stores specializing in organic and natural foods, announced Friday a voluntary recall of ground beef from its Nebraska-based supplier Coleman Natural Beef because of contamination by E. coli 0157:H7. The problem can, apparently, be traced back to earlier problems with Nebraska Beef Ltd.

The recall comes after the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a warning to residents of that state not to eat ground beef purchased from Whole Foods between June 2 and Aug. 6, 2008. Seven people in Massachusetts were infected and five were hospitalized with E. coli from the tainted beef, according to the Boston Globe. In a press release, Whole Foods pledged to “continue to work with state and federal authorities as this investigation progresses”.

So far, more than 50 people have been infected in nine states including – most recently – Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Michigan and Ohio have been particularly hard hit with more than 40 cases between them. The recall follows an earlier recall in July of beef from Nebraska Beef Ltd., from whom Coleman apparently received the beef which was later sent to Whole Foods.

“While Coleman Natural Beef is a relatively small supplier for Whole Foods Market, we are extremely disappointed that we must now question Coleman’s assurances,” said Edmund Lamacchia, global vice president of procurement in the Whole Foods release.

As of Aug. 10, no information about the recall was available on the Coleman Natural web site.

Nebraska Beef Ltd., a privately held company based in Omaha, Neb., has been struggling with repeated recalls of its products since May. The company recalled 5.3 million pounds of beef produced between May 16 and June 26. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, Nebraska Beef utilizes unsanitary production practices.

“FSIS has concluded that the production practices employed by Nebraska Beef, Ltd. are insufficient to effectively control E. coli O157:H7 in their beef products that are intended for grinding,” FSIS said in a press release issued July 3. “The products subject to recall may have been produced under insanitary conditions.

“The products subject to recall were further processed into ground beef at other firms, and will likely not bear the establishment number ‘EST 19336’ on products made available for direct consumer purchase.” [Emphasis mine]

It’s this distribution of Nebraska Beef’s product to other companies without any sort of source identification that has caused problems for Whole Foods and Coleman’s.