New York Federal authorities are investigating a new national outbreak of a bacteria-triggered illness, this time related to a sweet treat treasured by the heartbroken and children-at-heart — packaged raw cookie dough.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its preliminary investigation shows “a strong association” between eating raw refrigerated cookie dough made by Nestle and the illnesses of 65 people in 29 states whose lab results have turned up E. coli bacteria since March.
About 25 of those people have been hospitalized, but no one has died. E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure.
Nestle USA voluntarily recalled all of its Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised consumers to throw away any Nestle Toll House cookie dough products in their homes and asked retailers, restaurateurs and other foodservice operations not to sell or serve any of the recalled products.
Customers also can return any recalled product where they bought it for a full refund. The recall does not affect other Toll House products, including ice cream that contains raw Toll House dough.
FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said officials were confident that Nestle refrigerated dough products caused the outbreak.
The recall includes refrigerated cookie bar dough, cookie dough tubs, cookie dough tubes, limited edition cookie dough items, seasonal cookie dough and Ultimates cookie bar dough. Nestle said about 300,000 cases of Nestle Toll House cookie dough are affected by the recall, which covers chocolate chip dough, gingerbread, sugar, peanut butter dough and other varieties.
The FDA said consumers should not try to cook the dough, even though it would be safe to eat if cooked, because the bacteria could move to their hands and to countertops and other cooking surfaces.
Raw cookie dough is so popular that it has spawned more than 40 groups on Facebook, complete with postings that read like love notes.