Toronto Star reports that flour in cookie dough was the source of E.coli infection

From LESLEY CIARULA TAYLOR in today’s Toronto Star:

“The flour, not the raw eggs or chocolate chips, was likely the source of a 2009 outbreak of E. coli infection from Nestlé’s Toll House cookie dough, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports Friday.

Because of that surprise culprit, the CDC is calling for fail-safe formulas for packaged raw cookie dough.

In the meantime, lead investigator Dr. Karen Neil told the Star on Thursday, “Don’t eat raw cookie dough, period.”

Seventy-seven people in 30 states fell ill from exposure to the deadly E. coli bacteria. Thirty-five of them were sent to hospital; 10 suffered serious kidney injury. None died.

Hundreds of investigators spent a year performing a CSI-like recreation of the outbreak. They delivered their verdict and warning Friday in a study published by Oxford University Press.

“It’s particularly important during the holidays,” Neil said.

“Cookie dough is not a ready-to-eat product. But we know that people might eat the product anyway even though they’re told not to. This is an extra layer of safety.”

In fact, investigators found several of the victims bought the dough just to eat it raw, despite warning labels on the packages.

Teenage girls made up a big chunk of the cookie-dough eaters. The victims ranged in age from under 5 to late-60s. Half of them were under 19 and 71 per cent of them female.

“Our refrigerated cookie dough packaging clearly advises ‘Do not consume without baking’,” Nestlé spokeswoman Roz O’Hearn told theStar on Friday.

“As we approach the holiday season and the time of year when many are in the kitchen baking together, please take a moment to remind your family and friends that these warnings exist for good reason. No one should eat raw cookie dough, whether pre-packaged or made from scratch.”…”

Read it all in The


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5 responses to “Toronto Star reports that flour in cookie dough was the source of E.coli infection

  1. And where do you think the authorities will most likely go to protect us? Is this a reiteration of the hegelian dialectic?

    I would not be surprised if they mandate some sort of radiation for flour like they currently do with spinach and romaine lettuce. Then it will be free of e-coli and it will also be free of any nutrition at all. You might as well eat the paper sack that the flour came in.

    With less nutrition in the flour – peoples immune systems will be weaker and they will more easily sub-comb to e-coli from other sources. And we will be led around the merry go round as they chase down that demon and our health gets worse and worse as a result.

    How about letting people be responsible for their actions? If you eat a raw product there is a chance you may get sick!!! What a freaking revelation!

    • BC Food Security

      Inalien : You are right . I read that the US Post office already beams all parcels . It is not just X-rays . It is something else as well. They don’t advertise it unless you ask. (No idea what Canada is doing but i expect X-rays at the least ) And i have yet to see an intelligent discussion as to whether or not all that technology to make parcels “safe” destroys nutrition. For this reason it is better to mail live foods with UPS or Fedex (so far but this could change as well especially if there is another anthrax powder scare again ).

      • BC Food Security

        (From the EPA website ) What technology is being used to irradiate the mail?
        The Postal Service has selected electron beam technology to sterilize mail one half inch thick or less. Some powerful x-ray devices may also be used for certain types of packages.

        How does irradiation kill anthrax?
        Irradiation kills anthrax by shattering its DNA and other cellular components. The process for irradiating mail is the same process used to sterilize medical equipment.
        During irradiation, an intense stream of electrons (or x-rays if x-ray technology is used) strikes the mail and any anthrax spores it may contain. The radiation dose is very high, about 56 kilograys of radiation, which is approximately 2 million times more than a chest x-ray.

        Food Irradiation
        Does mail that has been irradiated become radioactive?
        No. The process is roughly analogous to shining a flashlight on the mail – when the flashlight is turned off, mail does not glow, or radiate back the light it received.
        Are there changes to the mail after it has been irradiated?

        Yes. Irradiating mail at such high intensity creates new compounds, which can result in a different look, feel, and even smell. The potential health effects of these changes is unknown. Because of the intensity of the beam, mail often looks yellowed, and can become brittle. Book bindings may become brittle, and plastic may be discolored. Seeds, plants or other biological material will be sterile, and photographic film will be useless. Items such as gem stones may be altered, and computer disks, CDs, and some electronic equipment (like personal digital assistants) may be damaged.
        Top of page

        Have people complained of health problems from irradiated mail?

        Some postal and federal workers have complained of skin irritation and respiratory problems associated with exposure to irradiated mail. However, there are no established health effects from the mail, and investigations into a these complaints are ongoing.

  2. So at the 23 November rally in Victoria, where we distributed raw milk and cookies, if anyone got sick, it just might have been caused by some under-baked cookie dough? 🙂

    Seems like the “can contain pathogens” argument that the health authorities keep using could apply to door-to-door Girl Scout sales, as well as raw milk… 🙂

    • Peter

      Absolutely. Like it or not, anything sold or distributed to the public is subject to government regulations. Just because it isn’t regulated yet does not mean it can’t or won’t be…

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