That would be its Toll House refrigerated cookie and brownie dough. Health officials linked the dough to infections from E. coli in as many as 66 people in 28 states. Glendale-based Nestlé USA is telling consumers to return the products to grocers for a full refund. No other Nestlé Toll House products are impacted, including its already baked cookies. From the press release:
A number of consumers reporting illness reported consuming raw Nestlé TOLL HOUSE refrigerated cookie dough. While the E. coli strain implicated in this investigation has not been detected in our product, the health and safety of our consumers is paramount so we are initiating this voluntary recall.
NYT story says health officials alerted the company Wednesday night that the dough was a prime suspect in the E. coli cases (they've been investigating the E. coli outbreak since March). From the Times:
Dr. Timothy F. Jones, Tennessee's state epidemiologist, said the cookie dough recall demonstrated how difficult it had become to ensure the safety of the nation's food supply. E. coli O157, the strain found in the Nestlé dough, is a particularly dangerous pathogen normally linked with contaminated meat. It causes abdominal cramping, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Most adults recover within a week, but the disease can lead to serious kidney damage and death. "We're all having trouble figuring out how E. coli O157 gets in cookie dough," Dr. Jones said. "This wasn't on anybody's radar screen."
This could be a pretty big story, both because of Nestlé's size and the ongoing clamor over the nation's food safety system. There's also the symbolism: I mean, if you can't trust Toll House cookie dough....
Nestlé has a reputation for strict food safety measures. For example, employees of the Peanut Corporation of America, the source of a nationwide contamination scare in January, said in interviews that Nestlé sent an inspector to its plant and found so many safety problems that the company refused to buy from Peanut Corporation. Many other large food buyers were not so thorough.
By the way, you're never supposed to eat raw cookie dough.