Rowan health officials warn about tainted cookie dough that's sickened two in N.C.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two people in North Carolina have gotten sick after eating E. coli-contaminated refrigerated cookie dough, according the Rowan County Health Department.
Now Rowan health officials are urging consumers to examine their refrigerators for pre-packaged Nestle Toll House cookie dough products that have been recalled nationwide for possible contamination with E. coli bacteria and dispose of them properly.
The products involved in the voluntary recall include all varieties of Nestle Toll House refrigerated Cookie Bar Dough, Cookie Dough Tub, Cookie Dough Tube, Limited Edition Cookie Dough items, Seasonal Cookie Dough and Ultimates Cookie Bar Dough. A complete list of recalled product varieties can be found at www.verybestbaking.com.
“E. coli O157:H7 is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, so it is vitally important that you take the right steps to remove these recalled products from your home or place of business,” said Leonard Wood, Rowan County health department director. “There have been two cases of E. coli illness reported in association with this recall in our state. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out but do it wisely.”
Wood said he did not know where the two cases in the state were.
The warning is based on an ongoing outbreak investigation conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal partners and state health departments. Since March, there have been 70 reports of related or associated illness across 30 states.
The multi-agency effort consists of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Health; the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child Development.
These state officials are working together with local health departments to contact grocery stores, child-care centers, summer camps, nursing and long-term care homes, jails, warehouses and other regulated facilities where the products may be found. Other places that these products may be found are churches and church-affiliated camps.
Wood said if anyone has any recalled, prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products, then it is best to just throw them away. Cooking the dough is not recommended because consumers might get the bacteria on their hands and on other cooking surfaces.
E. coli O157:H7 is a bacterium that can cause serious illness. It causes a diarrheal illness often associated with bloody stools.
Most healthy adults can recover completely within a week. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk for developing Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
Individuals who have recently eaten prepackaged, refrigerated Toll House cookie dough and have experienced any of these symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately. Any such illnesses should be reported to state or local health authorities.
People should not eat raw food products that are intended for cooking or baking before consumption. Consumers should use safe food-handling practices when preparing such products. These practices include:
– Following package directions for cooking at proper temperatures;
– Washing hands, surfaces and utensils after contact with these types of products;
– Avoiding cross-contamination;
– Refrigerating products properly.
For more information on safe food handling practices, go to www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109899.htm. Consumers who have additional questions about these products should contact Nestle consumer services at 1-800-559-5025 or visit their Web site at www.verybestbaking.com.

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