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Nestlé has recalled all products in which its Toll House refrigerated cookie dough because of concerns about salmonella contamination that may already have sickened 66 people in 28 states.

The recall includes some 47 products in which the cookie dough is an ingredient. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recommending that these products be thrown out or returned to retailers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “notified the Food and Drug Administration about the strong connection with Nestlé Toll House cookie dough Wednesday, and the FDA convened conference calls with the company that day, said FDA spokesman Michael Herndon. Friday, the company voluntarily recalled the products, which include all Nestlé Toll House refrigerated cookie-dough products, ranging from chocolate-chip bars to tubs of gingerbread cookie dough. The recall involves 300,000 cases of products shipped to retailers, each case containing a number of products, said a Nestlé USA spokeswoman.

“Nestlé USA, a unit of Switzerland-based Nestlé SA, said it hasn't found the E. coli strain implicated in the outbreak in any of its products, and said it is cooperating with the FDA and CDC in the investigation.”

"If there was anyone left in America who didn’t realize we need to reform the food safety functions at the FDA, this latest recall of Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough provides a sobering wake up call," Sarah Klein an attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, tells Consumer Reports. "Once again the agency is forced to react after illnesses are already occurring, when the focus should be on preventing contamination in the first place."

And, Consumer Reports writes, “Although there is a known risk of salmonella contamination in raw cookie dough (from uncooked eggs), E. coli contamination is rare. One possible source may be milk products, although that has not yet been determined, according to the FDA.

“The FDA—and Nestle on its packaging—recommends against eating raw cookie dough but Consumer Reports found in a recent survey that 39 percent of respondents reported eating raw dough while baking.”

The food safety bill currently before the US Congress would give the FDA the ability to mandate recalls, but under the current system, the Nestlé recall is classified as “voluntary.”
KC's View:
Hope the food industry is happy with the safety legislation now making its way through Congress, because new incidents like this one tend to grease the wheels and make passage almost completely certain.

Probably a good thing, too. Because these things are happening far too often. I just wish I had more faith in the FDA to make things better.