It’s rare that an "FDA Medwatch" is about food. Usually, such alerts are for medical professionals and address something having to do with drugs or medical devices. The national E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak associated with Nestle’s cookie dough, however, is very unusual and this FDA Medwatch has been issued for both consumers and all healthcare professionals:
FDA and the CDC are warning consumers not to eat any varieties of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7 (a bacterium that causes food borne illness). The warning is based on an ongoing epidemiological study conducted by the CDC and several state and local health departments. Since March 2009 there have been 66 reports of illness across 28 states. Twenty-five persons were hospitalized; 7 with a severe complication called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). No one has died.E. coli O157:H7 causes abdominal cramping, vomiting and a diarrheal illness, often with bloody stools. Most healthy adults can recover completely within a week. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk for developing HUS, which can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
FDA advises that if consumers have any prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products in their home that they throw them away. Cooking the dough is not recommended because consumers might get the bacteria on their hands and on other cooking surfaces. 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.
Please continue reading for the outbreak map, including a case-breakdown by state, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Persons Infected with the Outbreak Strain of E. coli O157:H7, United States, by State, March 1, 2009 to June 18, 2009
As of Thursday, June 18, 2009, 65 persons infected with a strain of E. coli O157:H7 with a particular DNA fingerprint have been reported from 29 states. Of these, 23 have been confirmed by an advanced DNA test as having the outbreak strain; these confirmatory test results are pending on the others. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arkansas (1), Arizona (2), California (2), Colorado (5), Delaware (1), Hawaii (1), Iowa (2), Illinois (5), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (4), Maryland (2), Maine (3), Minnesota (5), Missouri (2), Montana (1), North Carolina (1), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (1), Nevada (2), Ohio (4), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1), Texas (3), Utah (2), Virginia (2), Washington (5), and Wisconsin (1).